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Vernon School Board Minutes Draft, Re: Act 46

Here are draft minutes for the Vernon School Board meeting on Monday in which they voted to withdraw from the Act 46 district and become an advisable district. - c.


Vernon Town School Board
Minutes of Regular Meeting—April 25, 2016

Directors present: Mike Hebert, Deb Hebert, Gina Dyer, Walter Breau.
Directors absent: None.
Also present: Sally Brassor, Dana Gordon-Macey, Paul Smith. The members of the Vernon Select Board, Christiane Howe (chair), Sandra Harris, Josh Unruh, Emily Vergobbe, Stephen Skibnowsky, joined the meeting at 6:04 p.m.

CALL TO ORDER REGULAR MEETING—5:30 p.m. – Mike Hebert, Chair

Board vacancy interviews. The board went into Executive Session at 5:30 p.m. for personnel issues on a motion by Gina Dyer and seconded by Walter Breau. The board came out of Executive Session at 6:04 p.m., with the board chair stating that no action was taken.

The board will review and vote on the board vacancy at our next regular meeting. Thank you to all individuals for considering serving on the Vernon School Board.

Joined by the Select Board at 6:04 p.m.

Act 46 Discussion with the Select Board:

- Thank you to the Vernon Select Board for joining with us this evening to discuss a topic critical to both board and the town as a whole.
- Act 46 and Act 46 Study Committee overview by Mike Hebert and Walter Breau.
- “Advisable” towns in the articles of agreement do not need to vote in June on the articles, only necessary towns.
- How to vote on the new merged district budget? Similar to the BUHS budget or Australian ballot?
- Option for Vernon becoming a free-standing K-12 district. Vernon school choice and the union high school. We are open to a constitutional challenge. The other five WSESU districts would need to vote Vernon out of the district.
- Reduced tax rates are not a tax break, but a transition bridge to cover transition costs. All districts in the state need to cover the costs of education.
- Does Vernon lose the ramp down in tax rates with the merger? Indications suggest yes, but this is not certain.
- Proportional representation on the new Superboard. Could this be changed to allow each town to vote for their own representatives?
- No case law on “significant consideration” for school closures.
- This process should be about quality education for all students first, followed by efficiencies leading to reduced costs.
- Recreation Department use of VES in the future? Use of rental revenue?

Minutes for the April 11, 2016 and April 18, 2016 meetings were approved on a motion by Deb Hebert and seconded by Gina Dyer.
-Communications—From Mike Hebert, letter received from VES principal on meeting format.
-Committee reports—None.

Finance Report:
-The FY2016 budget, to date, was reviewed.
-Update on Fitz-Vogt billing issue.
-Warrant No. R-18 (FY2016) in the amount of $40,418.10 was approved unanimously on a motion by Deb Hebert and seconded by Gina Dyer.

ADMINISTRATIVE REPORTS—Principal’s report by Dana Gordon-Macey
- 1% fund requests reviewed. 1.) FY2016—Reading Street curriculum (five teachers). 2.) FY2017—Engage NY curriculum (seven teachers). Will be reviewed and decided at our next meeting.
- WSESU Special Education special monitoring by the VT DOE.
- Walk at Lunch Wednesday this week (April 27, 2016).
- VES graduation is Monday June 13, 2016.

Superintendent’s Report—Paul Smith for Ron Stahley
- No report.

Act 46 discussion–– (see above)
Board Vacancy—(see above)
Invite First Student representative to discuss the bus route issue under consideration.

- None.

Having questions on the Act 46 articles of agreement and their impact on Vernon, and the need for legal consultation, the Vernon School Board went into Executive Session at 7:18 p.m. for confidential attorney client communication made for purposes of providing professional legal services to the district with regard to the Act 46 Study Committee and potential contracts, where the board finds that premature public knowledge would place the district at a substantial disadvantage, on a motion by Gina Dyer and seconded by Deb Hebert. The Vernon Select Board was invited to attend as guests. The board came out of Executive Session at 8:58 p.m., with the board chair stating that no action was taken.

Motion by Gina Dyer and seconded by Deb Hebert approved for the Vernon School District to withdraw immediately from the Act 46 Study Committee and Vernon School District shall not be a member of any Act 46 district in which Vernon is only an advisable district.

The board adjourned at 9:12 p.m. on a motion by Deb Hebert and seconded by Gina Dyer.

Notes respectively submitted by Walter C. Breau, Clerk.

Vernon Town School Board

Committee Assignments

WSESU Finance/Compensation/
Evaluation/Goals: Gina Dyer, Mike Hebert (alternate)

WSESU Teacher Negotiations: Mike Hebert

Building and Grounds: Deb Hebert, Walter Breau

Policy Review: Walter Breau, Gina Dyer

Transportation: Gina Dyer, Mike Hebert

Classified Negotiations: Mike Hebert, Walter Breau (alternate)

Action Planning: Gina Dyer


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a few thoughts

This seems like a positive move. At the very least it will shake things up and change the discussion, plus draw attention to Act 46 and its implications.

Local control of schools is a long-standing tradition and Act 46 sort of came out of nowhere - it wasn't as if people were marching in the streets demanding it.

I can see how education officials looking at budgets and standardized test results would see value in consolidation - the national trend has been to give each student an identical education regardless of location, so of what value would a local school district be in such a system? It would be obsolete and in the way.

Taken to its logical conclusion, why not just have one large state district?

Vernon has stood up for local control, and I support the move. Maybe others will follow?


Growing up in NY state, the school boards and PTA were active. We got what I considered to be a good education, and would have gone on to take part in Regents had we stayed there. Instead, we moved to Florida, with rather poor schools by comparison. A few good teachers, but not the same overall team commitment that NY had.

One would think that's I'd like FL to match up with NY, but I don't. It's a very different place, and learning does depend a bit on context. Learning about the Revolutionary War is different when you live in once of the states with battle sites, for example.

The SAT was the national standard to prepare for, and all of this was just one measure of how educated one became.


Local control? What's That?

The problem Chris is it's too late. When ACT 60 was being implemented 3 towns stood up to the state and went so far as to defy Montpelier for around 18 months. The state finally threatened these 3 towns with a lawsuit and they gave in because of no support. In the meantime Vernon was making it's own deal with the state. Had Vernon and these other towns had gotten support from several towns in other counties we may not be in this situation today.
Unfortunately, the state has gotten so used to taking our local control that this is just another day at the office for it.
Centralized government always leads to this.


Most likely

I think you are probably right that it is too late.

I really don't recall much discussion of this Act before it passed.


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