Ripton elects school board members

FROM LEFT: MOLLY Witters, Joanna Doria, Steve Cash

RIPTON — Just 69 Ripton voters cast ballots on June 30 in the suspense-free election of its first local school board in five years.

The ballot featured three candidates — each one running unopposed for terms ranging in length from one to three years. When all the tallies had been counted, it was Joanna Doria receiving 62 votes for a three-year term, Steve Cash reaping 58 for a two-year stint, and Molly Witters receiving 62 for one year on the new panel.

Some voters threw their votes to folks not appearing on the ballot. They included:

•  Tracey Harrington (3 votes), Charles Billings (2), and Amy McGlashan and Liz Walker (1 vote each) for the one-year term won by Witters.

•  Perry Hanson, Nola Kevra, Jerome Shedd and Norm Tjossem (2 votes each); and Susan Hanson (1) for the two-year term won by Cash.

•  Perry Hanson (3 votes); Amy McGlashan (2); and Charles Billings and Tracey Harrington (each one vote) for the three-year term won by Doria.

 The 69 participating voters — 42 of whom cast their ballots in person, and another 27 who chose either the absentee, mail-in or drop-box options — represented 16.5% of the community’s checklist.

Now the Ripton School Board can start digging into a busy agenda that will include preparing a local K-12 budget for the 2022-2023 academic year. Ripton will continue to receive public education services via the Addison Central School District through the 2021-2022 academic year.

Ripton residents early this year voted to leave the ACSD, a seven-town district that includes Bridport, Cornwall, Middlebury, Ripton, Salisbury, Shoreham and Weybridge. Voters in the six other ACSD communities endorsed Ripton’s withdrawal. The Vermont State Board of Education green-lit the move in May.

Ripton leaders have seen independence as a path toward maintaining the community’s local elementary school — tentatively targeted for closure by the ACSD as part of a broader consolidation plan — while tuitioning the community’s older students to area secondary schools, with Middlebury Union middle and high schools remaining a top choice.

Current plans call for Ripton to affiliate with the White River Valley Supervisory Union (based in Royalton) to receive central office, special education and other ancillary services. Those services have historically been provided to Ripton by the ACSD.

The Independent published profiles and photos of new Ripton School Board members Cash, Doria and Witters in its June 24 edition.

Voters will be asked to do more housekeeping later this summer to facilitate Ripton’s transition to independence from the ACSD. An Aug. 31 referendum is tentatively planned for voters to finalize Ripton’s financial separation from the district.

Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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