New Addison Central school board to hold first meeting next week

MIDDLEBURY — Vermont Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe on June 22 will bring to order the first-ever meeting of the newly created Addison Central School District Board.

The first ACSD board gathering will begin at 6 p.m. at the Middlebury Union High School auditorium, with a reception to follow. The primary task at that meeting will be to elect a moderator, clerk and treasurer, according to Addison Central Supervisory Union Superintendent Peter Burrows. Holcombe will serve as the temporary presiding officer until the newly elected moderator takes over, Burrows said.

“The board’s agenda at its first meeting will be light,” Burrows said.

Board members will also be asked to set compensation for their officers. Burrows has reached out to other, already unified districts to ask about officers’ compensation. He has found that, for example, the treasurer for a unified board has been voted annual salary ranging from $1,000 to $3,000. The treasurer, Burrows noted, will be required to perform some tasks at the central office.

The new ACSD board will follow up its first meeting with a retreat on July 16. This will allow members to discuss long-range plans and potentially elect their chair, vice chair and secretary.

It was on Town Meeting Day that school governance unification received an overwhelming endorsement from residents in the ACSU-member towns of Bridport, Cornwall, Middlebury, Ripton, Salisbury, Shoreham and Weybridge. The ACSD board will eventually supplant all of those communities’ elementary school boards, along with the UD-3 panel that presides over Middlebury Union middle and high schools.

Plans call for the ACSD board to begin drafting a first-ever fiscal year 2017 spending plan for the entire unified district. The panel will, over the course of the ensuing year, take over additional tasks, such as teacher contract negotiations and policy development, Burrows said.

Meanwhile, the UD-3 school board and elementary school boards will continue to meet — though likely on a more sporadic basis — to pay bills, handle student discipline and other operational tasks that might arise. The 13-member ACSD board will assume full control on July 1, 2017, according to Burrows, while the other boards will technically exist until the end of that calendar year.

Addison Central officials will meet on June 21 to discuss possible revisions to the boards’ meeting schedules.

The breadth of work to be undertaken by the new ACSD board will likely warrant twice-per-month meetings, Burrows believes. The panel will form various subcommittees to do the legwork on such major issues as budgeting, personnel and policy development.

“It’s really exciting,” Burrows said of the new era that is about to begin in Addison Central’s history. “Having a single board is going to facilitate what we do for kids.”

Meanwhile, other Vermont communities this week either voted on school governance unification, or are preparing to do so.

Orwell residents on June 21 will field, for the second time, a proposal under Vermont’s Act 46 to join five Rutland County communities in a unified Slate Valley Unified Union School District. Orwell citizens back on April 12 voted 211 to 121 against joining Castleton, West Haven, Hubbardton, Benson and Fair Haven in a new unified union school district that would be governed by a single, 18-member board. Orwell was the only member of the current Addison-Rutland Supervisory Union that voted against that unification plan.

Addison Northeast voters are gearing up for a vote on governance unification this November.

Meanwhile, residents in four other supervisory unions in Vermont fielded school governance unification votes on Tuesday, June 7. The measure passed in the Chittenden South and Washington West supervisory unions. It failed in the Franklin Northeast and Orleans Central supervisory unions.

Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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Addison County Independent

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