Bristol resident tapped to fill open spot on Mt. Abe board
BRISTOL — Bristol resident Allison Sturtevant has a head for numbers, and that, in part, helped her win selection to replace a Bristol member of the Mount Abraham Union High School Board who had resigned mid-term.
Sturtevant, appointed by the Bristol Elementary School Board on Monday, will join Mount Abe board members Doug DeWitt, Carol Eldridge, Alicia Kurth and Kris Pearsall in representing Bristol on the 13-member school board, which represents all five towns in the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union.
“We’re quite pleased,” said Steve Barsalou, chair of the BES board. “We’re fortunate to have somebody who has that kind of passion to want to be involved in a volunteer position such as the school board.”
“Bristol is lucky to have her,” added vice chair Elin Melchior. “The Mount Abe board will be lucky to have her.”
Sturtevant is replacing Robert Donnis, whose resignation was announced at the Mount Abe school board’s July 9 meeting. Sturtevant will serve out Donnis’s term of office, which expires next March. She can then elect to run for office.
BES Board members noted that as a community member Sturtevant has been very actively engaged in school board proceedings over the past year, especially in regards to controversial budget issues, which delayed passing of school budgets district-wide.
“She did a lot of work during the budget process that informed a lot of people,” Barsalou said.
Sturtevant works as an administrator in the Pharmacology Department at the University of Vermont’s College of Medicine in Burlington, where keeping close tabs on budgets is a central part of her responsibilities.
“My line of work is budget reports and budget projections,” said Sturtevant. “So from February on, I went through the numbers (in the proposed ANeSU school budgets) — very detailed — and made my own spreadsheets just so I could understand how they were putting their numbers together. I got a really in-depth view of what was going on from the perspective of someone looking at the budget lines and seeing where the money was going and how they were budgeting going forward for the FY 2016 budget.”
Sturtevant wants to help balance community concerns over the cost of education with the need to provide high-quality education to the district’s students. She sees a big part of her role as listening, communicating and working hard to get an accurate grasp of both constituent concerns and of the details of what is going on with the schools.
“People don’t understand why our property taxes keep going up when Vermont over the last 20 years has lost 20,000 students, and I understand that concern,” she saidin an interview with Independent. “But it’s not that simple. We have fewer students with much greater developmental, emotional, and educational needs that have to be met.”
A tenacious number cruncher, Sturtevant did her own count of actual student-teacher ratios in the district, for example, and realized that much-touted numbers as low as nine to one or even four to one at some ANeSU schools weren’t entirely accurate.
“If you count every single adult in the building including custodians, yes we do have one adult per four students. But if you look at class room teachers, with budget cuts we now have 18 to one, 20 to one, 19 to one,” she said.
A Bristol resident since 1996, Sturtevant and her husband, Jeff, have three children in Bristol schools. Two will be at Bristol Elementary School this fall — a kindergartner and a fifth-grader— and the oldest will be an eighth grader at Mount Abe.
“It’s important to me,” said Sturtevant about serving Bristol residents as a member of the Mount Abe school board. “I don’t like to be concerned about something and just talk or complain. If I’m concerned and I think that there are things that can be done, then I’m willing to step up and help however I can.
“I love Bristol,” she added. “We have a fantastic community. And it’s the five towns as well; it’s all five towns coming together. If somebody needs something, it gets done. There are a lot of people who really do care about this community.”
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