MARSHFIELD — School districts in Cabot and Danville both dodged the same Act 46 bullet this week and, barring a change of heart by the state Board of Education, will be joined by Twinfield in an expanded version of the Caledonia Central Supervisory Union.
For the moment it’s still written in pencil, but the state board this week provisionally rejected a recommended merger that would have consolidated separate pre-K-12 school systems in Cabot and Danville, while agreeing to assign Cabot and Twinfield to Caledonia Central.
Cabot and Twinfield are long-time partners in the three-town, two-school Washington Northeast Supervisory Union, while Danville is partnered with Peacham and the recently merged Caledonia Cooperative School District in Caledonia Central.
Though voters in Plainfield and Marshfield approved a merger that would have aligned their shared school —Twinfield — with Cabot and Danville in one new pre-K-12 district last year, the proposal was handily rejected in both of the other towns.
The failed vote created a cloud of uncertainty that now appears to be lifting in a way that caught Washington Northeast Superintendent Mark Tucker by surprise.
Tucker, the lame-duck superintendent of a soon-to-be-extinguished supervisory union held out hope Cabot would avoid a forced merger, but didn’t expect Twinfield to land in Caledonia Central.
“It’s still kind of sinking in,” he said. “The decision to move Twinfield to Caledonia Central was not something that was on our radar.”
The Twinfield board recently opened conversations with the Washington Central and Barre supervisory unions, which were both viewed as more likely landing spots.
Tucker, who attended Monday’s state board meeting in North Clarendon said he was caught off guard by its Twinfield decision.
“I had to ask someone if I heard it right,” he said. “It wasn’t something I’d been thinking about.”
It is now.
Based on the state board’s provisional decision Caledonia Central will have three separate pre-K-12 districts – Cabot, Danville and Twinfield – as well as the three-town pre-K-8 Caledonia Cooperative and the Peacham’s pre-K-6 school district.
Tucker said conversations Twinfield had been having with Barre Superintendent John Pandolfo and Washington Central Superintendent Bill Kimball will now require outreach to Caledonia Central Superintendent Mathew Forest.
“We need to talk about the transition,” he said.
Thought their respective voters were on opposite sides of the failed merger, Tucker said school officials in Cabot and Twinfield had developed a “good working relationship” over the years and could be allies in Caledonia Central.
“We’ve been talking for awhile about what seemed to be the likelihood that Cabot and Twinfield were going in different directions,” he said. “Now, that doesn’t appear to be the case.”
Caledonia Central was always a logical home for Cabot and had the state board approved the recommended merger with Danville it wouldn’t even have been a question. The same was never true of Twinfield, which is why school officials there reached out to Washington Central and Barre instead.
Earlier this month the state board provisionally approved a supervisory union-wide merger in Washington Central and deferred action with respect to the Barre Supervisory Union pending the results of next week’s merger vote in Barre and Barre Town.
The results of that merger vote and another that will be in the Orleans Central Supervisory Union on next Tuesday will be in hand when the state board holds meets on Nov. 14 at Williamstown Middle and High School. The board could finalized its plan for dealing with districts that haven’t voluntarily merged at that meeting, or could wait until a separate session scheduled for Nov. 28. The board is under legislative directive to finalize the plan by Nov. 30.