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Elder resigns from MAUSD school board

STARKSBORO — Caleb Elder has resigned from the Mount Abraham Unified School District Board.
“At this point, I don’t feel like I am able to continue in this role for the rest of my term,” Elder wrote to board chair Dawn Griswold in a March 10 email tendering his resignation, effective immediately.
Elder was one year into a three-year term that’s set to expire in March 2023.
“It was just a matter of balancing obligations,” he told the Independent on Thursday.
Elder has been wearing several public-service hats lately.
In November he was reelected as the Addison-4 (Bristol, Lincoln, Monkton and Starksboro) representative to the Vermont House and subsequently appointed to the House Committee on Ways and Means, after serving for two years on its Education Committee.
Around the same time, he was appointed to a six-year term on the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation’s board of directors. VSAC is a public nonprofit agency that helps Vermont students save, plan and pay for college or career training.
Elder is also a dad.
“I have a two-year-old child and a baby coming in a couple of weeks,” he said.
Elder was first elected to the school board in November 2016, at the same time that Addison Northeast Supervisory Union voters approved a plan to form the unified school district that would become the MAUSD. Before that he served on the ANeSU Act 46 Study Committee.
Elder also served on the MAUSD board’s Community Engagement Committee and for a time acted as its co-chair.
“In many ways there’s never a good time to step down,” he acknowledged. “But I’ve been doing this for seven years.”

EVOLVING PROCESS
Elder’s resignation came one day after he objected to, and refused to participate in, an executive session convened by the school board during its regular March 9 meeting.
On a number of occasions over the past several months he has expressed concerns about the way the school board’s process was evolving as it considered a Dec. 7 proposal by Superintendent Patrick Reen that would, among other things, discontinue elementary education in three district towns.
“He will be missed,” Griswold said at the board’s March 16 meeting. “He was a big part of a lot of the work that’s been going on since the beginning of the school district.”
Starksboro resident Nancy Cornell expressed concern over Elder’s departure.
“Losing him as a board member, I think, is a huge loss to the group,” Cornell said at the March 16 meeting. “It seems to me that, given the suddenness of his resignation, it might be wise to conduct an exit interview with him, if he’s willing, and to share the results with the rest of the board.”
Dave Sharpe, a Bristol representative to the MAUSD board and himself a former Addison-4 representative, spoke highly of his former colleague.
“I think Caleb has served his community extraordinarily well,” Sharpe said at the same meeting. “I’m amazed that he was able to continue to stay on the school board while having a small child and trying to put food on the table and serving … in the Legislature.”
The school board, in consultation with the Starksboro selectboard, will appoint a town resident to fill Elder’s seat.
Interested parties should submit a letter of interest to [email protected] by April 3.
“I am imagining a meeting where the (MAUSD) Board interviews candidates and then either decides then who to appoint or appoints at another meeting,” Griswold said.
The school board has until April 9 to appoint a replacement.
Reach Christopher Ross at [email protected]

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