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Act 46 Study Committee Meeting Agenda and Minutes


Representing the Brattleboro Town School District, Dummerston Town School District, Guilford Town School District, Putney Town School District and the Vernon Town School District http://www.wssu.k12.vt.us


The Act 46 Study Committee will meet at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 24, 2017 in the WRCC Cusick Conference Room.


I. CALL TO ORDER – 6:00 p.m. – Alice Laughlin, Committee Chair






Review School Board Comments RE: Articles of Agreement
Vote on Sending Articles of Agreement to the Vermont State Board of Education
Review Schedule / Calendar



Note: In accordance with the following excerpt from WSESU Policy E-12 Electronic Communications Use and Retention

II. Use of E-Mail and Electronic Communications

The school board and administration will not use email as a substitute for discussion at board meetings, or for any business properly conducted at board meetings subject to the Vermont Open Meeting Law.


Brattleboro Town School District, Dummerston Town School District, Guilford Town School District, Putney Town School District and Vernon Town School District

Act 46 Study Committee
Work Session Agenda, Minutes & Action Items – July 18, 2017 at 6-8 PM – WRCC Cusick Room

Brattleboro: Kim Price*, David Schoales**, Jill Stahl Tyler*, Spoon Agave*
BUHS/ BAMS/WRCC: Ricky Davidson*, Ian Torrey* * denotes voting member,
Dummerston: Kristina Naylor** ***, Amy Wall* - Clerk ** denotes alternate voting member,
Guilford: Beth Bristol*, Erin Tkaczyk* *** denotes ex officio member
Putney: Richard Glejzer**, Alice Laughlin* - Chair
Vernon: Walter Breau*, Mike Hebert**

Also present
WSESU: Lyle Holiday – Superintendent, Frank Rucker – Business Manager
Others: BCTV staff and members of the public listed on the public sign in sheet

Committee Guidelines
1. Work sessions will start and end on time.
2. Work sessions will last 2 hours unless decided otherwise by the Committee.
3. Members will give and receive with good intentions.
4. Members will follow “3 before me” as a guideline so all members have the opportunity to speak.
5. Members will conduct Committee business in front of the group.
6. Members will understand that silence on the part of another member does not imply agreement.
7. Members will site sources of evidence during discussion.
8. All members will be included in conversation and no side conversations will be conducted during the work session.
9. Members will stay on topic during discussions and will request the Clerk make note of additional topic(s) for future discussion.
10. Members will engage in the work at hand and administration will provide the space and support as needed to do so.

Agenda Items Led by
- Call to order Alice Laughlin
- Review, prioritize and establish desired outcomes for meeting Alice
- Review Study Committee member roles and public comments by Chair Alice
- Approve of minutes of previous work and info sessions – June 21 Alice
- Review Study Committee process by Chair Alice
- Recognition of groups and/or individuals Alice
- Study Committee Work Session Alice
- Articles of Agreement – Revie and discussion
- Review Vernon Town School district vote and implications
- Review scheduled/calendar
- Future meetings, Discussions Alice
- Adjournment

Work Session Minutes:
Alice Laughlin called the work session to order at 6:00 pm and welcomed the public. She provided highlights from the Study Committee’s June 21 meeting with Donna Russo-Savage and Brad James from the Agency of Education. Lyle Holiday shared that Chris Leopold could not attend tonight’s work session but he is available via phone/text to answer questions. Alice reviewed agenda items for tonight’s work session.

On a motion made by Beth Bristol, seconded by Kim Price and so voted, the minutes of June 21were accepted as written. Ian Torrey abstained since he did not attend the June 21 work session.

Alice opened the floor to public comment which included the following comments, concerns and/or questions:

What is the full capacity of BAMS and how would a unified board keep middle school in Dummerston?
Brattleboro property tax rates appear to increase in a unified district;
Request for another way – collaboration;
Reference to a recent letter to the editor in the Brattleboro Reformer;
Vote in November does not leave much time – plan B?

Lyle Holiday led a review of the Articles of Agreement – latest draft dated 7/12/17 – which includes proposed changes based on answers from Chris Leopold to Study Committee’s questions from the June 21 meeting. Lyle reviewed the changes in Article 7D that Chris recommended because the wording implies there is not equity in the system. After discussion of Article 7D, the Committee agreed to change in language by consensus for the second paragraph: “…, the Unified Board will evaluate the benefits of a schools continued presence in a community. The Unified Board will thoroughly review the school’s ability to maintain continued educational equity. Input from the town…” and in the third paragraph “… the place of residence or follow the school choice protocol as outlined in Article 17.”

In the conversation with Lyle and Frank, Chris Leopold said that Article 15 is as strong as it can be under the law without becoming a defacto board. After discussion of Article 15, the Committee agreed that the Leadership Councils “… will be made up from members of the school administration, staff, parents and community members. The councils will have a chair, vice-chair and committee representatives as determined by the local community.” Further, the Committee agreed to change/add the following in Article 15, page 10: second paragraph (after bulleted list) should read “Staff members shall be nominated by the respective school’s staff and appointed by the Unified District Board Chair. Parents and other community members nominated at Town Meeting shall be appointed by the Unified District Board to serve for one year terms. Additionally, the school principal may select…”. The fourth paragraph should read: Within the first year, the Unified Board shall actively engage…”. Finally, additional wording was added in the fifth paragraph that reads: “It is the responsibility of the members of the Leadership Councils to abide by the Code of Conduct adopted by the Unified Board.”

Alice opened the floor to the public who shared the following thoughts, ideas and/or concerns:

About removal of Leadership council members by the Unified Board,
School administration being included in Leadership councils,
A positive working example is the Brattleboro Community Police Communication committee.

The Committee felt that additional discussion of Vernon’s revote which was happening this evening was not needed since it had been addressed in previous meetings. Kim Price shared that the voting had finished and that Vernon voters reaffirmed their choice to withdraw from BUHS District #6.

In response to questions about appointment and/or removal of Leadership council members, Lyle Holiday contacted Chris Leopold. He confirmed via text message that the Unified Board can remove appointees who violate the adopted Code of ethics. He also confirmed that Leadership council representatives for both the high school and the local school need to be nominated at Town Meeting. Alice again opened the floor to the public who shared the following:

Dislike of the wording used on page 3 re: tax relief,

On a motion made by Beth Bristol, seconded by Amy Wall and so voted unanimously, the Report with Articles of Agreement was approved as amended. Alice recommended that all local boards review the Articles and their Study Committee members have their feedback for the next work session. Ian Torrey and Spoon Agave expressed their dislike of a merger and Act 46, respectively. Jill Stahl Tyler pointed out that the data shows very clear inequities that do make a difference in the education students receive from town to town. Kristina Naylor provided an updated on the Dummerston Alternative structure group. While no particular option has been identified under Act 46, it has generated meaningful discussion among the participants. Kristina stated that the group found the idea of an agency fund very interesting. Amy Wall asked Frank Rucker about the feasibility of this given his experience with the agency fund he set up while at Leland & Gray. Frank said that it is not applicable/appropriate in this case and would lead to diminished governance at the local level which presented significant issues. He shared that a business model is not a useful comparison for operating a school district since schools operate under a very different environment (i.e. state and federal statutes).

Alice opened the floor to the public who shared the following:

The Dummerston alternative group was working together and looking at options,
Vernon is leaving BUHS but not leaving the SU
No exit clause included in the Articles (already exists in statute),
Does Vernon have to hold a vote on unification (no, not listed in the Report or Articles of Agreement).

Alice, Lyle and Frank reviewed a tentative schedule for a November 2017 vote. Alice pointed out the importance of soliciting local board feedback before the next Study Committee work session on August 24. Jill Stahl Tyler asked about listing towns as necessary or advisable. Spoon Agave expressed concern that not all options had been reviewed. Amy Wall suggested that he review the information on the Study Committee webpage for links to the data and work that the Study Committee had done in reviewing the various options. She pointed out that around the state school districts are merging in response to Act 46 to address the very serious issues of declining enrollment and increasing costs. She expressed concern about the affordability of living in our communities otherwise.

On a motion made by Beth Bristol, seconded by Kim Price and so voted, the work session adjourned at 8:10 pm.

Recordings of all WSESU Act 46 work sessions are available on the BCTV website. Information referenced during work sessions is posted on the Act 46 Study Committee page on the WSESU website.


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