FAIRFAX — In the wake of last year’s failed merger talks with Georgia and Fletcher, the Fairfax school board has created its own study committee to examine the school district’s options under Act 46.

The committee, chaired by Scott Mitchell, is reaching out informally to neighboring school districts including Essex, Milton and Cambridge to see what level of interest there is in a possible merger. “They’re not official merger talks,” said Mitchell at a committee meeting Wednesday night. “Really, they’re just seeing if our curriculums and philosophies fit together.”

Fairfax has already had several conversations with the Maple Run Unified School District about joining Maple Run. Those conversations are now on hold while Fairfax sorts through its options.

Asked if a merger with Maple Run would close the Fairfax school, Mitchell said it would not. “We’d both run K-12 systems. Act 46 can’t shutter a school,” he said. “I don’t believe [Bellows Free Academy, St. Albans] could take all of our students.”

In addition to merger, Fairfax could also seek to remain a separate school district. Doing so would make the school an alternative structure under Act 46. In order to maintain the current configuration of the Franklin West Supervisory Union (FWSU), the Georgia and Fletcher districts would also have to apply to be alternative structures, and all three would have to request that FWSU remain their supervisory union.

“The bar for an alternative structure is high,” said FWSU superintendent Ned Kirsch.

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