Petition Circulates To Recall North Bennington School Vote

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Days after North Bennington voters agreed to close their public school, a petition is circulating to recall the vote.

In a close vote Tuesday, residents decided to  close the North Bennington Graded School and establish an independent school in its place.

Joyce Scarey is among those circulating the petition. She says Tuesday’s vote was confusing.

"There was a mailing that was sent out by the independent school supporters," she says. "It says, ‘Support the independent school because it will insure that the school remains open, serving our children now and into the future.’ If you read that, what does it tell you? If you don’t vote yes, the school may close."

Scarey says the yes vote was actually a vote to close the public school. But supporters of independence fear the much-loved public school will be forced by state policy to disband or be absorbed, due to shrinking enrollment and rising costs.

Supporters of a revote say the move was too hasty and left questions unanswered — including whether a private school would lose the low rates and favorable terms of an outstanding public school construction bond.

The issue has already seen two votes. It passed by a wider margin last March. But an application for the new, independent school was tabled by the State Board of Education, forcing the public school to stay open an extra year.

The new vote dated the change for 2013.

Supporters hope the independent North Bennington Village School will be approved at the state board’s November meeting.

But Board Chairman Stephan Morse says that’s not a given. "It probably would not be on our agenda if there is a pending second vote," Morse said.

The petitioners need five percent, or 84 signatures, to force a recall.

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