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MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Some Vermont school boards are concerned about the next steps in the Act 46 school district consolidation process with the announcement that state Secretary of Education will be stepping down.

Rebecca Holcombe announced Tuesday she was resigning on April 1. She had been meeting with districts that do not want to merge and was supposed to decide if dissenting boards can remain independent in a statewide report due June 1, Vermont Public Radio reports.

Holcombe has been meeting with the near-60 school districts that want to retain their full boards, and not merge with a nearby district. With her resignation, some school boards are calling for the state to slow down Act 46 work.

“I will be surprised, really surprised, and very upset, if we are sticking to this June 1 deadline now that we have this very abrupt resignation,” said Mary Niles, chairwoman of the Montgomery school board. “It throws a lot of things into question, I think.”

After the community voted twice not to merge with other schools in Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union, the school board worked to put together an alternative proposal. Some members of the school community met with Holcombe a few weeks ago to talk about the proposal, Nile said.

Scott Thompson, of Calais, who served on Washington Central Act 46 Merger Study Committee, called Holcombe’s resignation a “blow.”

“Maybe the legislature and the governor should put the process on hold until a successor can be appointed and fully briefed. I hope they do something of the sort,” he said.

Krista Huling, chairwoman of the state Board of Education, said other Agency of Agriculture staff attended the meetings with school boards and she wants to stick with the schedule.

“I think this has been a long-term process, that this bill has set out,” Huling said. “I feel like we are on track to continue moving forward.”


Information from: WVPS-FM,