Education News

Mount Abe board seeks members

BRISTOL — The Mount Abraham Unified School District board will work with its member communities to fill four vacancies on the panel that failed to draw candidates — or enough write-in votes — to be filled on Town Meeting Day.

A total of six MAUSD board seats were up for grabs on Tuesday. Upon reconvening later this month, the MAUSD board will work to appoint residents in Bristol, Monkton and New Haven to fill the open seats for a one-year-term. There are two open seats in Monkton, and Bristol and New Haven each have one seat to fill. 

Typically, the MAUSD board and the respective town’s selectboard work together to identify and appoint a resident to fill a school board vacancy. MAUSD Vice Chair Krista Siringo said board members will begin that work at their March 14 meeting, as well as choosing a new board chair to fill the vacancy left by Dawn Griswold, who chose not to run for another term. 

“We have not articulated a specific plan for trying to recruit folks or encouraging folks to submit their interests and that’s something I think we will need to do,” Siringo said. “We will probably do some sort of outreach to all of the towns to encourage people to run and to do this really important service.”

Siringo noted that to her knowledge, four seats is the largest number the MAUSD board has had to fill at one time. Still, she’s feeling positively about the work ahead. 

“I think that we’ve been through a lot over the past year, and I’m hopeful and optimistic that this will be a time to kind of regroup and work both internally as a board at strengthening our internal group dynamics, relationships and processes, as well as at how we engage our community,” Siringo said. 

Siringo on Tuesday ran unopposed and won another one-year-term representing Bristol on the MAUSD board. This will be her final term as a member of the MAUSD board, which she plans to transition off of next March.  

“I’m grateful to be able to have one more year on the board, especially helping us to transition after Dawn completed a really long term of service,” she told the Independent on Wednesday morning. 

Siringo, who hinted at the last board meeting that she would consider being chair if the board were so inclined, said she’s excited about plans for the MAUSD board’s work in the year ahead, such as developing community working groups to tackle issues like facilities planning and pre-k and childcare. 

“I think that a collaborative working group approach to some of these issues is really helpful in engaging lots of different voices, building trust and finding ways for community members to get involved,” she said. “When we share the work on these issues with our community I think it makes the work of the board members a little less fraught and more collaborative, so I am excited about that work.”

LINCOLN EXIT AGREEMENT

In other MAUSD-related action on Town Meeting Day, the district’s withdrawal agreement with the Lincoln School District was approved in each of the MAUSD’s member towns. That agreement includes the property transfer of the Lincoln Community School and bond. The Lincoln School District will also receive a negotiated portion of the MAUSD Education Reserve Fund, totaling $74,754.

Voters in New Haven narrowly approved the withdrawal agreement, 151-135. The agreement was approved by wider margins in Bristol (261-163), Starksboro (169-24) and Monkton (193-78). 

District voters on Town Meeting Day approved a $33,868,900 MAUSD spending plan for the 2023-2024 school year, 816-460, with all ballots commingled.

Voters in the MAUSD also agreed to allow the school board to withdraw up to $1.7 million from the Capital Reserve Fund in order to cover expenses related to the ongoing lobby and bathroom renovations, 907-358.

 As of June 30, 2022, the balance of the district’s capital reserve fund was $1,780,118. 

District voters on Town Meeting Day also approved Article 9, which proposed putting the district’s projected fund balance of $438,504 into the Capital Reserve Fund. The tally for that vote was 986-281. 

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