Addison union board seat up for grabs
ADDISON — Addison residents on March 1 will have a clear choice between two candidates for one seat on the proposed 12-member Addison Northwest Supervisory Union board.
That Unified Union (UU) board could replace the five boards that now operate the four ANwSU schools, but will only come into being if all five ANwSU towns back the one-board unification plan on Town Meeting Day.
In Addison, unification opponent Carol Kauffman filed for one of the two seats, as did long-time Addison Central School board member Rob Hunt, who like other ACS board members favors the one-board plan. ACS board member Donald Jochum, a former unification opponent who now favors the proposal, is running unopposed for Addison’s second seat on the UU board.
Kauffman is also running for a seat on the ACS board that would be dissolved if unification is approved. Kauffman said her husband and family, now including five birth and three adopted children, moved to Vermont from Arizona, to allow her husband, Selectman Jeffrey Kauffman, to pastor a church.
She said, “Over ten years ago, I sat on the ACS school board and left my seat to home school our special education children.” Kauffman said she has served as the co-chairwoman of the Vergennes Union High School Friends of Music program “for many, many years.”
Hunt, 48, is also running in two races — he is challenging for a seat on Addison’s selectboard.
A resident of Addison for 22 years, Hunt first served a stint on the Addison Zoning Board of Adjustment before settling in on the Addison Central School board. He has spent the past 16 years on the ACS board, serving as chairman much of that time.
The two UU board candidates were supplied the same series of questions via email on Feb. 10 and given a week to respond. Their answers are printed here:
1. Why did you choose to run?
Kauffman:“If Addison voters want to jump on the Unified Union train, I can either be left behind or get on the train. Having to attend one meeting a month, (I am) a pro in the Unified Union school governance model. ANwSU has spent many years trying to unify our local towns. I have seen very little education reform during these years, and it’s time for education reform.”
Hunt:“I chose to run for the Unified Union board position because I believe, if the vote is in favor, it is important to have as smooth a transition as possible. I feel that my experience as a ACS Board member will aid in a smooth transition.”
2. What would be your highest priorities if elected?
Hunt:“My highest priority, if elected, will be to maintain, improve, and equalize the educational opportunities for the students in the UU. The potential for better utilization of our personnel, and through them, to improve the educational opportunities for the students, is there.”
Kauffman:“Education Reform and cost containment. The promise of lowering taxes by ‘spreading the wealth’ has been tried and failed across the nation and not too long ago with the Act 60 legislation. Commissioner Vilaseca and the legislatures need to rein in their top heavy administrative cost by downsizing the bureaucracy and superintendent’s offices before targeting rural schools for closing. I don’t see why the powers above cannot downsize the bureaucracy and superintendent offices without creating mega districts that deny local control. I believe education reform comes when the schools are given back to the principals and classroom to the teachers.
3. What do you foresee as the major challenges facing the Unified Union board, and how might you think the UU should handle them?
Kauffman:“The major challenge will be to break away from the ‘status quo’ and enter into education reform with leadership/reformers that are fiscally responsible and visionary. The ANwSU school district is known for the struggle to unify for eight years? We have seen very little cost containment and education reform during these same years.”
Hunt: “I believe the biggest challenge for the UU board will be to equalize the educational opportunities for the elementary buildings. At present the opportunities, especially in the arts, are not equal from building to building, and this creates problems when our students enter middle school. I think the UU board will work hard to educate all the children in ‘The School,’ as the UU will create one school with four campuses.”
4. Simply put, why should Addison residents vote for you?
Hunt:“Addison residents should vote for me because I have proven, on the ZBA and the school board, that I do my best to represent the town’s people. Unlike politicians in Washington, I believe the taxpayers are smart and do understand the issues and since it is their money, they have the right to be fairly represented.”
Kauffman:“I will be transparent with Addison voters, and will insist that a report from the auditors be submitted yearly in the Town’s Annual Report as required by law. I will welcome all voters’ opinions, comments, frustrations and questions. I will educate myself and represent Addison’s best interest fiscally while carrying out the duties under Title 16, chapter 9, even if I have to go to Montpelier.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].