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Act 46 Study Committee Meeting Agenda and Notes


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


The Act 46 Study Committee will meet at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 1, 2016 at the Putney Central School.


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



IV. APPROVAL OF MINUTES – November 9, 2016



Vernon Withdrawal Information Presentations
Articles of Agreement
Review Schedule
Public Information: Mailings
State Board of Education Meeting Preparation and Schedule



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 – November 9, 2016 from 6-8 PM – Oak Grove School

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

Also present
WSESU: Frank Rucker – Business Manager, Ron Stahley – Superintendent, Lyle Holiday – Curriculum Coordinator
Others: BCTV staff, members of the public including Erin Tkaczyk, Angela Johnson, Shaun Murphy,
Jody Normandeau, Ines McGillion

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 session – October 27 Alice
- Review Study Committee process by Chair Alice
- Recognition of groups and/or individuals Alice
- Study Committee Work Session Alice, Ron Stahley, Frank Rucker
- Vote schedule and process
- Vernon and BUHS Separation agreement
- Article 8 discussion
- Marlboro Alternative Structure
- Review schedule
- Public information: mailings and information presentations
- State Board of Education Meeting preparation
- Future meetings, Discussions Alice
- Adjournment

Work Session Minutes:
Alice Laughlin called the work session to order at 6:13 pm and confirmed that a quorum was present. Alice proposed additional time for public input at the end of the meeting and the Committee members agreed by consensus.

On a motion made by Beth Bristol, seconded by Mark Truhan and so voted, the minutes of October 27 were accepted as written. Kim Price and Jill Stahl Tyler abstained because they were not present at the meeting.

Alice welcomed the public present and opened the floor to their thoughts, concerns and/or ideas which included:
Support for a unified board based on the Proportional model,
Reminder that BUHS was not the sole property of Brattleboro and was owned jointly by Brattleboro, Vernon, Putney, Dummerston and Guilford,
Request for the public sign in for the Putney information session to be posted on line,
Reference to the visit of VT AOE Donna Russo-Savage to Dover-Windham, and
Request to slow down.
Jill Stahl Tyler requested more information from the public on what was meant by “slow down.” Jody Normandeau claimed that the Committee had not done research into other options. Jill Stahl Tyler thanked her, pointed out that the Study Committee had in fact researched all options as part of its work and acknowledged that disagreement on this point.

Alice led a review of the Vote schedule and process. On 12/13/16, the voters of Brattleboro, Dummerston, Putney and Guilford will be asked to vote whether to release Vernon from BUHS #6 so that Vernon can pursue options that allow them to maintain school choice. The Warning Article for each town has been approved and will be posted according to the time frame allowed by statute. There will be information sessions prior to the vote on 12/13 as required by law. These information sessions must be held between 12/3-12/12/16 and are tentatively scheduled as follows:
Monday 12/5/16 – Guilford
Tuesday 12/6/16 – Dummerston
Wednesday 12/7/16 – Putney
Thursday 12/8/16 – Brattleboro (Academy School).
No information sessions need to be held in Vernon or for BUHS.

Alice led a discussion about public information in the form of mailings to all town residents. For the vote to release Vernon from BUHS #6, the information should include the date of the vote, dates of the information sessions with locations, and the following bullet points:
1. Vernon asked to be released from BUHS #6;
2. By law, member towns of BUHS #6 – Brattleboro, Dummerston, Guilford and Putney – have to hold a vote on this;
3. This vote is the result of possible unification of WSESU excluding Vernon per Act 46; and
4. There are no financial repercussions with Vernon’s withdrawal from BUHS #6.
5. If one town does not approve Vernon’s withdrawal from BUHS #6, then Vernon remains a member of BUHS #6.
Alice and Jill will work on the mailing and the Committee will meet at 5:45 pm on 11/15 at Dummerston School to review the information (prior to the information session).

Jill Stahl Tyler shared that she and Barb Nowakowski had located Brattleboro enrollment data dating back to the 1970’s. Jill will gather this information in 5 year increments. The Committee concurred that information for the second information sessions in a local community should include more detailed information including programming, financial implications and tax information. Richard Glejzer shared feedback he received on the information session in Putney which included the need to say “not if, but when…” unification will happen and to talk about the process that led the Committee to the current Articles of Agreement. Further, it was not evident to the Putney attendees that the Committee had worked through some very difficult topics and issues because it seemed so cohesive.

Alice led a review of the ballot handout which included the warning article and ballot language. Lyle Holiday shared that the slide presentation for the Dummerston information session had been streamlined and slides were made less wordy. Jill Stahl Tyler and Alice shared that they will be working on a 3-minute video that will be available on the Study Committee website.

Alice opened the discussion of Article 8 and Amy Wall described the two models – at large and proportional. Beth Bristol shared information on a way other towns had added more voices to small towns. This was done by splitting one vote for a small town between two people representing that town. Discussion ensued. Jill Stahl Tyler reminded the Committee that Brattleboro remained neutral on this topic. Richard Glejzer shared that there was strong support for the at large model based on the input from Putney residents and at the Putney information session. Beth Bristol shared that Guilford prefers the proportional model but it was not a “deal breaker” since arguments for both options could be made. Alice shared that Putney would prefer the at large model since it crystallizes what the Study Committee is trying to achieve. A question was raised by the public about the implications if Vernon or another town were to join after unification. Alice shared that the voting structure would need to be changed and this would be addressed by the unified board at that time. Kristina Naylor expressed preference for the shared votes. Frank Rucker reviewed information received previously from legal counsel on board composition. Per Chris Leopold, statute requires one person/one vote and Frank reviewed the scenarios for board composition (5-16 members, weighted votes, shared votes for small towns). The at large model provides the smallest statistical variance and consequently best meets statutory criteria. The smallest variance is something that the State Board of Education will be looking for in all unifications. Alice Laughlin shared that she had reviewed Brattleboro’s voting history which was not one that elected solely Brattleboro residents for public offices. In fact, Brattleboro’s voting history supported more non-resident public officers. The topic of substitutes or alternates for when a member was not able to attend was raised. Frank shared that there are no substitutes for elected officials.

Alice Laughlin and Ron Stahley shared information on their recent meeting with Marlboro representatives who are members of the Alternative Structure group consisting of Marlboro, Dover and Wardsboro. This group did not have any information on a proposed structure and the conversation was informational. Programming and possible opportunities for collaboration in the future were touched on. Alice shared that there were many common threads to WSESU schools.

Jill Stahl Tyler asked for an update on the process. The Agency of Education is reviewing the report and Articles of Agreement to provide additional feedback. If the outcome of the December vote allows Vernon to withdraw from BUHS #6, then the VT AOE recommends meeting with the State Board of Education to review the report and Articles. Amy Wall shared the Dummerston Board’s motion at it recent meeting requesting that the Committee send the report with Articles back to local boards for them to review and provide feedback. The Committee acknowledged that this was its intent and that local boards should begin their review process at upcoming meetings. Alice reminded the Committee that the report and Articles had very few changes since it was approved by the Committee, so the September 8th version could be used for local board review. Jill Stahl Tyler pointed out that some of the language regarding school closure and its impact on the community had been dropped. She requested that it be added back into the report. Ron Stahley will review previous drafts and confer with legal counsel.

Alice Laughlin opened the floor to the public present who shared the following:
Request for Frank Rucker to provide cost implications if there is no plan by 7/1/17 and
Request at future information session to talk about specific issues that the Committee struggled with and how they reached consensus.
On a motion made Beth Bristol, seconded by Mark Truhan, and so voted, the work session ended at 8:00 pm.

Respectfully submitted, Amy Wall – Committee Clerk


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