Starksboro residents vie for Robinson School Board board seat

STARKSBORO — In the only contested race on Starksboro’s Town Meeting Day ballot, a newcomer is challenging the chair of the Robinson Elementary School board.
Longtime educator Nancy Cornell faces incumbent Bonita Bedard for the three-year seat on the board.
Cornell, 62, said she has been involved in the Starksboro community for many years and her experience working in schools would be an asset to the board.
“I feel like I might be able to make a contribution,” Cornell said Tuesday. “I care deeply about the school and the students there.”
Cornell was an associate superintendent of schools and curriculum coordinator for 23 years — 16 years in the ANeSU and seven years in the Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union.
Previously, she taught high school English and worked as a freelance writer. She is currently employed as an educational consultant and is the editor of Vermont Learning, an online newspaper for teachers.
Her two children and stepdaughter are proud alumni of Robinson Elementary, and Cornell served on the school board for several terms, from 1987 to 1994.
In a letter to the editor published in the Independent this week, Cornell said her goals as a board member would be to:
•  Ensure student success using the supervisory union’s “ends policy.”
•  Work with fellow board members to have a continuous, meaningful dialogue with the community.
•  Provide a high-quality education to students while keeping costs down.
Cornell said she has no concerns about the competency of the current school board.
“The current group of board members are a group of fine people, and they’re doing their best to serve the school,” she said.
Bedard, 63, has served on the Robinson Elementary board for the last 13 years and the Mount Abraham Union High School board for the last nine. She co-owns Honey Lights in Bristol and has lived in Starksboro her whole life.
She said as legislators in Montpelier work to change how the state’s public schools are structured and financed, local school boards have the opportunity to shape the future of education in Vermont.
“I feel this is such an amazing moment in Vermont education, because there are so many challenges we’re supposed to meet,” she said. “We haven’t had a chance like this in a century to change public education.”
As opposed to worrying about how changes in Montpelier will affect Robinson Elementary, Bedard said she’s enthusiastic. She said that she hopes voters re-elect her so she can finish the work boards across the supervisory union and state have started.
“I feel there are some exciting things that will come out of the uncomfortable crunch people are feeling right now,” Bedard said. “That’s something I feel I can be part of in a really positive way.”
She said her experience as a business owner equips her with a unique way of looking at how the education system works. She said she always looks for ways to make the school more efficient while giving students the best possible education.
“It has to be about the kids in the building, and providing the best quality of everything we’re able to provide,” Bedard said.
Polls will be open at Robinson Elementary from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 3.

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