OSSU UNIFIED DISTRICT – ACT 46 – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- What would be different under a unified district?
- One Unified District Board. Right now we have 5 separate boards, one for each elementary school (3), one for the high school, and one for the OSSU as a whole. Under a unified district, one single board comprised of board members from each town would meet at one meeting.
- One system-wide budget. Right now we have 5 separate budgets – one for each elementary school, one for the high school and one for the OSSU. Under a unified district there would be one budget.
- One system-wide employee contract. Right now school employees are contracted to serve in one district only and seniority is based on the district for which the employee is contracted. Under a unified district, employees would be contracted to serve the OSSU as a whole, and seniority would be based on the entire district.
- What would remain the same under a unified district?
- Focus on educational quality. The Unified District school board will continue to lead by adhering to the same governance principles that have been in effect under the current structure. This means our students will continue to receive education that meets the same established outcomes and goals and our school staff will continue to provide the same quality education we have been fortunate to expect.
- Careful budget management. The careful budget process that has allowed us to develop our staff, increase cohesive curriculum across all elementary schools, maintain our 4 school buildings and keep our school budgets flat (compare our track record to our surrounding districts) will continue. In fact it will be more streamlined
- How will my community be represented under a unified district?
Unified District Board representation will be as follows:
- Braintree – 2 board representatives
- Brookfield – 2 board representatives
- Randolph – 4 board representatives
- Will there be an impact to the school children?
No. There will be no discernable difference in the day to day operations of each school. The students will not notice any difference. However, we continue to support ongoing initiatives for staff development, and look carefully at outcomes to ensure that everything is being done to support all learners.
- Does unification mean a school will close?
No. State statutes are written so that only a board may close a school. The current OSSU board members are very concerned about this issue, and in order to ensure that no preemptive action is taken have written into our articles of consolidation an advisory vote before any school can be closed. The board AND administration values our community based schools. Closure will only be considered when the school’s community members believe that the needs of students aren’t being met. None of our schools is in that situation now.
- What happens if the vote to unify the districts fails in one town?
Penalties from the state will occur. If any town does not vote in favor of creating a unified district, our current structure will remain in effect. The consequences of remaining in our current structure are serious. First, Brookfield, Braintree, and Randolph will lose $150,000 in grant moneys (awarded to districts that unify), Brookfield and Braintree schools will lose their Small School Grants ($88,000 each), and the Hold Harmless provision of the property tax formula will be increased from 3.5% to 10%. In short, local property tax rates in Brookfield, Braintree, and Randolph will increase significantly. Lastly, by 2019, the OSSU will be subject to restructuring by the State Board of Education.
- What happens if the vote to unify the districts succeeds?
The districts will begin a process of coming together to serve OUR students and our schools avoid state financial penalties. If Brookfield, Braintree, and Randolph vote to form a unified district our towns will realize property tax incentives in each of the next four years of 8 cents, 6 cents, 4 cents, and 2 cents, respectively. In addition, Brookfield and Braintree will retain their small school grants and the Hold Harmless provision of the property tax formula will remain at 3.5%. Lastly the Unified District will receive a one-time $150,000 grant. The overall property tax rates in each town are projected to decrease in the first year as follows:
Brookfield: 6.6 cents
Braintree: 7 cents
Randolph: 6.5 cents
- Is there a vote on creating a Unified District?
Yes. March 1,2016 (Town Meeting).
- When would a Unified District be formed if the communities vote Yes?
The Unified Districts would begin operation on July 1, 2017.
- What occurs between the vote on March 1,2016 and the start of the UD on July 1, 2017?
A transition between the two governance models will occur. The new Unified District Board will begin to develop a budget and system-wide contracts to be in place for the July 1, 2017 start of the UD. The existing OSSU and local school boards will be required to carry out the legal functions required to operate the current system until unification occurs on July 1,2017. At that time the individual Boards disband and the UD Board will assume full control.