Six appointed to ANWSD-MAUSD unified study group

VERGENNES — At its Monday meeting the Addison Northwest School District board, at the recommendation of board Chair John Stroup, appointed ANWSD’s six representatives to the joint Mount Abraham Unified School District-ANWSD Study Committee that will formally explore whether merger options between the two districts make sense.

Appointed were Keith Morrill, as a Vergennes and ANWSD board representative; Erica Andrus and Mary Neffinger from Ferrisburgh; Rebecca Coffey, Vergennes; Martha DeGraaf, Panton (until recently an ANWSD board member); and Carole McBride, Addison.

“I want to thank the many community members who indicated that they would participate on the Merger Study Committee,” Stroup said. “My task was to ensure that we had broad community participation.”  

MAUSD as of Tuesday morning had yet to appoint its nine committee members. The committee was formed based on population ratios. Letters of interest from MAUSD residents interesting in serving were due to MAUSD Board Chair Dawn Griswold on June 11.

An initial committee meeting was envisioned in the merger study timetable for late June. No merger can happen unless residents of both districts approve of a plan.


The ANWSD board also unanimously adopted an ANWSD Equity Policy that had been about a year in the making. Similar policies had drawn criticism in other Vermont districts, but Stroup said the district’s public efforts had gone smoothly. The main text of the policy reads:

“The Addison Northwest School District is committed to the success of every student, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, family economics, class, geography, ability, language, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or initial proficiencies. The Addison Northwest School Board holds itself and all District and school-site decision-makers, faculty, and support staff accountable for building a District-wide commitment to equity. The District will incorporate principles of equity within all policies, programs, operations, practices, and resource allocations.”

The full policy is published on


The board also discussed Addison’s upcoming July 13 vote to withdraw from ANWSD (see story on Page 1A). The town selectboard warned that vote and an informational meeting at 7 p.m. on July 6 in Addison Town Hall on the issue.

The other four ANWSD towns would also have to approve Addison’s withdrawal, as would the State Board of Education, as was the case in Ripton’s recent successful withdrawal from the Addison Central School District.

“The board agreed that our role is only to ensure that information is available about the process,” Stroup said. “And we are available to answer questions if people desire to do so. But we certainly respect that this is a decision for the people of Addison.”

Stroup said he hopes that he and ANWSD Superintendent Sheila Soule will be allowed to speak at the informational meeting.

At the same time, he acknowledged the board consensus on Monday was that members hoped Addison would remain with ANWSD.

“We believe this district serves all our district well and that we are a stronger district being together as the five-town municipalities, because that gives us a better chance to solve the problems we face over the next few years,” Stroup said.

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