During the study committee process through which the River Valleys district was formed and in early discussions of its newly formed board, chair Rich Werner has regarded transportation as one of the more hot-button issues the group will need to tackle. At the board’s first official meeting in September, transportation was one of the only policies the board didn’t accept boilerplate language on, the other being whether and how students may attend school within the district but not in their hometown, that is, a Dover student attending school in Wardsboro and vice versa.
At the board’s October 16 meeting, Werner suggested creating subcommittees to look at the transportation and building use issues, noting that the transportation committee should comprise members of the public, highway officials, and transportation professionals.
At the board’s November 6 meeting, Werner opened up another discussion about the committee, with a focus on transportation. Board member Laura Sibilia, who wasn’t present at the October 16 meeting, said she thought the board should carefully consider the parameters of what that committee would be tasked with dreaming up, noting that without guidelines, the group may create inflated expectations of what’s possible.
Werner took issue with the notion of boxing the discussions in.
“It’s our job to rein whatever comes in, but it’s important not to put it in a box,” said Werner. “The goal is, we have to decide how we’re going to do transportation in this new district. Here’s what this new district is, and what is important to people?”
Superintendent Bill Anton said he thought it would be sensible of the board to spend time defining what it wants to have come of those discussions. Sibilia said she had concerns that a committee would come up with unattainable wishes.
Board member Dwight Boerem said beyond worrying about the committee creating an untenable scenario, he worried about tasking members of the public with an issue that has been touted as potentially controversial.
“Are we sending them to the wolves by asking them to make really difficult recommendations to us?” said Boerem.
The board did not come to a conclusive decision about whether to form a subcommittee or who would serve on it, with Werner noting that for now, it may be useful to get the word out that the board is considering forming a committee in the future.