STOWE, Vt. (AP) — Efforts to force school districts to merge their boards and budgets in Vermont — a rural state with declining enrollment and rising education costs — have sparked backlash with more than 20 communities planning to take legal action.

The state Board of Education released its final plan on Friday to merge 45 districts in 39 towns to form 11 new union school districts. The state says the goal of the consolidation law that the decision is based on is to improve education outcomes and equity by creating larger and more efficient school governance structures.

A number of communities see it as a loss of local control over their kids' education and plan to appeal the forced mergers.

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