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ANWSD citizens’ petitions reworked

VERGENNES — The Rural School Alliance, which seeks to prevent the closure or reconfiguration of any Addison Northwest School District school without voter approval, has begun circulating petitions throughout the district, with clarified language and a new deadline.
“We’ve updated the petitions to make the wording clearer and to bring it more in line with the petitions other Vermont school districts are using to achieve similar goals,” said Addison resident and RSA member Caetlin Harwood.
The RSA is calling for a district-wide vote on Town Meeting Day and plans to collect signatures from at least 7% of the registered voters in each of the school district’s five municipalities — Addison, Ferrisburgh, Panton, Vergennes and Waltham. By law they need signatures from 5% of the district’s voters, regardless of town of residence.
As noted in the online edition of the Independent’s Dec. 2 story, the RSA revised their petitions’ wording just before distributing them.
Whereas before they indicated that “The closure must be supported by a majority of the voters residing in each of the five towns in the district,” it will now say that “School reconfiguration or closure must be approved by the majority of the voters in the towns affected by the reconfiguration or closure.”
Petitions will be available for perusal at several locations throughout the district, including the Ferrisburgh, Panton and Waltham town offices, West Addison General Store, Addison Four Corners Store, Gilfeather’s Fine Provisions in Ferrisburgh, BJ Farm Supply in Panton and 3 Squares Cafe in Vergennes.
The group plans to present the signed petitions to ANWSD clerk Glory Martin by Jan. 3, 2020. Once the signatures have been verified, the petitions will be passed along to the school board, which is scheduled to meet on Jan. 13.
According to Will Senning, Vermont’s Director of Elections and Campaign Finance, the last day for the school board to post a warning for the annual meeting is Feb. 2.
The campaign is a response to the ANWSD’s recent proposal to close Addison Central School and Ferrisburgh Central School, which voters in those towns rejected on Nov. 5.
Barring any amendments to its charter, the school district, which already has the authority to reconfigure school building populations at its discretion, will gain the authority to close district schools without voter approval on July 1, 2021.
For more information about the Rural School Alliance, email ruralschoolalliance@gmail.com.
Reach Christopher Ross at christopherr@gmail.com.

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