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Act 46: Overview, Goals, Timeline, Fact Sheet

Act 46 of 2015 provides opportunities for school districts to unify existing disparate governance structures into sustainable systems of education delivery that are designed to meet identified State goals while recognizing and reflecting local priorities.

Act 46 established a multi-year process with incentives for communities that voluntarily merge into the most common governance models. The Act created or incorporated three incentivized phases for voluntary mergers: Accelerated Mergers (Phase 1); REDs or RED variations (Phase 2); and Conventional Mergers (Phase 3).

Districts that do not pursue or achieve a voluntary merger under one of the three phases are required to evaluate their ability to meet or exceed State goals, to talk with other districts, and to present proposals to the State Board of Education by December 26, 2017. 

During 2018 the Secretary of Education will develop a proposal and the State Board will issue a final statewide design that realigns unmerged districts into more sustainable models of governance that meet State goals - to the extent realignment is necessary, possible, and practicable for the region. 

Voluntary Mergers

After reviewing the guidance documents below to help determine which phase of voluntary mergers might be appropriate for districts in a particular region, a study committee can use the following Study Committee Worksheet for All Phases of Voluntary Mergers as it discusses, analyzes, and prepares its proposal.  Please submit the completed worksheet to the Secretary with the final study committee report. 

Study Committee Worksheet for All Phases of Voluntary Merger

Phase 1: Accelerated Mergers

The deadline for voters to approve the creation of a new merger under the Accelerated Phase has expired.  For background information, please see Summary of Phase 1 – Accelerated Mergers

Phase 2: REDs and RED Variations

Phase 2 incorporates the processes and incentives enacted byAct 153 of 2010 for Regional Education Districts (REDs) and in Act 156 of 2012 for Side-by-Side Mergers, Layered Mergers, and Modified Unified Union School Districts – three variations on REDs that are eligible to receive incentives available to REDs.  Each of these governance models is potentially an "Alternative Structure" as envisioned in Act 46, Sec. 5(c).

Phase 3: Conventional Mergers

Phase 3 provides incentives to a new district formed by the merger of two or more districts that meets certain additional criteria, including becoming operational as a supervisory district after July 1, 2017 and on or before July 1, 2019.  (Act 46, Sec. 7)

Unmerged Districts and Alternative Structures

Act 46, Sec. 9 requires a district that has not pursued a voluntary merger, or that does not expect to merge voluntarily before July 1, 2019, to complete three tasks:

Statewide Governance Proposal and Final Plan

Secretary’s Proposal

Act 46, Sec. 10 requires the Secretary of Education to develop a proposal to realign districts into more sustainable models of governance to meet the goals set out in Act 46, Sec. 2.  The Secretary will develop the proposal based on information gleaned from Voluntary Mergers, proposals from Unmerged Districts above, and from other resources.  The Secretary will propose changes to the extent necessary and in a manner that is possible and practicable for the region.  The Secretary will post the proposal on the Agency’s website and present it to the State Board of Education by June 1, 2018.

State Board’s Final Statewide Plan

Act 46, Sec. 10 requires the State Board to issue a final statewide plan by November 30, 2018 that requires the merger and realignment of districts and supervisory unions where necessary -- for the same purposes and under the same criteria that govern the Secretary’s proposal.  The State Board is directed to review the Secretary’s proposal and is authorized to take testimony and request additional information. 

Section 10 does not apply to unified union school districts created through the voluntary merger processes, to CTE districts, and to interstate school districts.

Text of Law

RED Variations


Email Donna Russo-Savage or Act 46 Info , or call (802) 828-0110.