Community Forum: Mary Hogan voting changes urged

This week’s writer is Nancy Malcolm, a Middlebury resident who helped gather signatures for the two petitions being presented to the ID-4 school board at its annual meeting on April 8.
Wednesday, April 8, 7 p.m., is the annual meeting of ID-4 (Mary Hogan School). Two petitions have been presented to the board to be included on the warning. One is to change the ID-4 (Mary Hogan School) annual meeting to coincide with Town Meeting Day and the second is to vote on the budget by Australian ballot on Town Meeting Day. These are not anti-education issues. This is not a referendum on how the school is run. This is simply a matter of democratic process in 2015 allowing for the most people to participate.
We are programmed to think about voting on Town Meeting Day. We set our schedules knowing that no other meeting should conflict with Town Meeting Day. We take the time to find out the issues and ask questions. If we cannot attend town meeting we know that we can vote by absentee ballot. There are many ways for boards to get information to the electorate prior to voting and we have MCTV that covers all of the meetings on television or online.
ID-4 (Mary Hogan School) is the only one that is not on this schedule. Attendance at their annual meeting in April has been historically low with as few as seven and usually around 25 voting on the budget.  Maybe attendance is low because people automatically support the school and its budget. Maybe people can’t make it because of family circumstances that get in the way in today’s world.  No matter the good intentions sometimes it doesn’t work. 
ID-4 (Mary Hogan School) is one of only five schools left in the whole state that is an “incorporated district.” While there are several governance models in the state, most have town school charters. Only incorporated districts hold their annual meetings and voting at a different designated time. Of the five remaining incorporated districts in the state only ID-4 (Mary Hogan School) chooses to hold its meeting as the original charter from the 1860s dictates. The other four have changed their meeting to coincide with town meeting and they vote their budgets by Australian ballot on Town Meeting Day. 
Middlebury has a strong tradition of supporting education. We are fortunate to have excellent administrators at the schools and the superintendent’s office who make thoughtful budgets to meet the requirement of the students’ education. We are blessed with good teachers and students.
You need to physically attend the ID-4 (Mary Hogan School) annual meeting on Wednesday, April 8, 7 p.m. at the Mary Hogan School in order to vote on these two articles that will change the date of the meeting and the vote to Australian ballot on Town Meeting Day. That is the only way that this will change. So, please put it on your calendar and come out to vote so we can all have an opportunity to vote in the future.

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