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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 http://www.wssu.k12.vt.us


The Act 46 Study Committee will meet immediately following the WSESU Board Meeting at approximately 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 15, 2016 at the Putney Central School.


I. CALL TO ORDER – immediately following the WSESU Board meeting (at approximately 7:30 p.m. – Alice Laughlin, Committee Chair



IV. APPROVAL OF MINUTES – December 1, December 5, December 6, December 7, December 8, 2016



Review Local Board Comments RE: Article 7 Section D, Article 8, Article 9 and Article 15
Quick Review Act 46 Timing/Financial Constraints
Discuss Options:
Individual Town Re-voting Process
Five Town Merger Vote



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.




Act 46 Study Committee
Work Session Agenda, Minutes & Action Items – December 1, 2016 at 6-8 PM – Putney Central 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
Others: BCTV staff, members of the public including Jody and Paul Normandeau, Ines McGillion, Elan Moses

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 – November 9 Alice
- Review Study Committee process by Chair Alice
- Recognition of groups and/or individuals Alice
- Study Committee Work Session Alice, Ron Stahley, Frank Rucker
- Vernon Withdrawal information sessions
- Article 8 agreement
- Review schedule
- Public information: mailings
- State Board of Education Meeting preparation and schedule
- Future meetings, Discussions Alice
- Adjournment

Work Session Minutes:
Alice Laughlin called the work session to order at 6:12 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.

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,
Request for closing of a school and/or moving of a grade to go to a town vote,
Reference to another Study Committee’s vision statement,
List of names of attendees at the Dummerston forum including those who did not sign the sign in sheet to be on the public record,
Questions about the mailing to voters about the 12/13/16 vote on Vernon’s requested withdrawal from BUHS #6.
On a motion made by Kim Price, seconded by Beth Bristol and so voted, the minutes of November 9 were accepted as written. There was discussion about the need to approve the minutes of the recent forums and upcoming information sessions. Because a quorum was present at some of these meetings, minutes need to be recorded and approved. The Committee agreed by consensus that it made sense to approve all minutes for these events en masse after the information sessions next week are completed.

Alice led a review of the upcoming vote on Vernon’s request to withdraw from BUHS #6. No information session need to be held in Vernon or for BUHS. Dates and times of the required information sessions in each town with Committee members and Vernon School Board members in attendance were reviewed:
Monday 12/5/16 at 6 pm – Guilford Central School
Tuesday 12/6/16 at 6 pm – Dummerston School
Wednesday 12/7/16 at 6 pm – Putney Central School
Thursday 12/8/16 – Brattleboro – Oak Grove School.

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 mailing provided polling locations and times in each community. This information has also been submitted to the calendar section of the Brattleboro Reformer, The Commons, and VT Digger. Committee members were encouraged to post this information to their community’s website, email list and/or Front Porch Forum.

Alice opened the discussion of Article 8 on board composition with a handout based on recent findings by legal counsel Chris Leopold. The handout describes a unified board consisting of members voted directly by their communities (Brattleboro – 4, Dummerston, Guilford and Putney – 1 each) and the vote is not commingled. The two at-large positions would be elected by all towns and the vote would be commingled. Chris advised that his initial research shows that this composition meets statutory requirements and he will confirm with the AOE. Article 9 was updated to reflect these changes. On a motion made by Beth Bristol, seconded by Kim Price and so voted unanimously, the Committee adopted the changes to Articles 8 and 9 as described in the handout.

Alice opened the discussion of Article 15 on school based Leadership Councils and asked Ron Stahley to speak to legal counsel’s recent findings. Ron shared that Chris Leopold confirmed that contrary to previous information Article 15 can be changed by the unified board. This updated is based on review of statute by Chris and on input from the AOE and State Board of Education. Chris stated that there is no guidance in statute on Leadership Councils and he advised against putting any constraints on a new unified board. Frank Rucker pointed out that Article 1 and 2 are prescribed by statute so additional statements about changes to remaining Articles is not allowed. Chris Leopold told Ron that if the Articles do not follow existing statutes, then the Articles and the unified board will be open to potential questions regarding the validity of the structure of the Leadership Councils. Amy Wall suggested that wording be added to the Article to require a majority vote of the unified board if they were considering elimination of Article 15 in the future. Kim Price suggested that it be a unanimous vote of the unified board to alter or remove Article 15. On a motion made by Amy Wall, seconded by Beth Bristol and so voted unanimously, the following language was added to Article 15: “A unanimous vote of the Unified Board shall would be required to alter or remove Article 15."

Alice opened the discussion of Article 7 Section D as requested by Beth Bristol and Jill Stahl Tyler. It was determined at the last work session that language had been removed from this Article during the evolution of the Articles of Agreement. Jill requested the return of the language she provided on school closure. Amy Wall located the wording in an April 2016 draft and it was discussed by the Committee. On a motion made by Beth Bristol, seconded by Amy Wall and so voted unanimously, the following language was added the Article 7 Section D: “The Unified Board will thoroughly analyze the full impact to the community, financial implications of the change, including the cost savings, the impact on staff in that facility, and transportation costs to send current students to another location, if applicable. The Unified Board will weigh the benefits of a school’s presence in a community with the gains. The Unified Board will thoroughly review the equity to be gained in the decision, ensuring that the affected students would gain from the move in educational opportunities. Input from the town affected will be formally solicited and shared publicly.”

Alice Laughlin requested that Committee members review the changes to Articles 7 Section D, Article 8, Article 9 and Article 15 with their local board and bring their feedback to the next work session on December 15 at 8 pm at Putney Central School. Alice and Ron Stahley confirmed that petitions for unified board positions should be available by December 27, 2016 and must be returned to their respective Town Office by January 30, 2017.

Alice Laughlin opened the floor to the public present who shared the following:
Concern about the lack of public involvement on such a significant change.

On a motion made Beth Bristol, seconded by Kim Price, and so voted, the work session adjourned at 7:10 pm.
Respectfully submitted, Amy Wall – Committee Clerk


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