Bill Anton, the new Dover School principal, requested matching DEDC funds for pre-kindergarten through sixth-grade Dover School students. The money would be used for a common good education fund. A common good education fund is similar to an individual retirement account. The money is invested in a 529 fund, a state-sponsored college savings plan, where up to $200 in matching funds a year would be set aside for each Dover School student. The maximum yearly commitment to the program would cost the town $23,000 in matching funds. That number was based on 115 students utilizing the program.
A common good education fund currently exists in Kalamazoo, MI. Anton wanted to duplicate a similar effort at the Dover School.
Anton said a common good education fund would provide students an incentive to save for higher education. He believes the fund can foster pro-academic behaviors in a pre-K through 12th-grade learning environment and motivate parents to be more pro-active in children’s education. By investing in children at the pre-K through sixth grade level, Anton also believes a common good education fund can attract media attention and more residents to Dover. “Property values have increased and more companies are moving to (Kalamazoo),” said Anton. DEDC chair Lisa Coneeny added that Dover would be the first town in Vermont to establish such a fund.
Some members of the selectboard expressed reservations. Vice-chair Becky Snow liked the proposal, but she questioned if it was discriminatory. Snow thought the fund should include high school students. She added that pre-K through sixth-grade students “may not know which direction they want to go.” Erik Nielsen agreed with Snow. However, he thought it should include Dover residents of all ages. Nielsen argued if Dover is going to approve taxpayer dollars, it cannot discriminate against age groups. Adults seeking educational opportunities should be included. Anton said the fund is intended for young students. Coneeny added the common good education fund is legal under Vermont state law.
Selectboard member Adam Levine liked the idea, but questioned if it was consistent with the DEDC’s core goals. Anton said it was consistent with marketing the town of Dover, but Levine thought that may be bending the rules. “It’s a great idea, but you’re reaching outside the present scope of objectives,” said Levine. “Let’s adjust those objectives first and then come back to it.”
Coneeny disagreed with Levine’s comments. Coneeny said the fund will generate publicity and can generate economic development, albeit indirectly. “Sometimes we need to think outside the box,” said Coneeny.
Levine said he had no problem thinking outside the box. Levine’s concern was the DEDC losing sight of its original goals. “I think we’ve learned in the last two years is when we go outside the box, where do you draw the line?” Levine asked.
Selectboard member Colby Dix suggested the selectboard listen to more public feedback before reaching a decision. The selectboard tabled the issue until the next selectboard meeting.
The selectboard approved $14,000 to continue the town’s public relations campaign. The town hired Lynn Barrett, of Prime Time Concepts, and the selectboard is satisfied with the results. Barrett’s public relations efforts led to Dover stories in the Associated Press, Stratton Magazine, Yankee magazine, and local radio stations.
DEDC member Chris Donnelly presented the selectboard a new Dover logo design. The DEDC has been working on a new design that best reflects the town. A slogan that caught the DEDC’s attention was “Dover, home of Mount Snow.”
Donnelly said more people are familiar with Mount Snow than they are with Dover. The new logo will make people more aware of the town. “When you tell someone you’re from Dover, they say, ‘what is it?’ When you mention Mount Snow, then they know what you’re talking about,” said Donnelly.
The selectboard approved the Dover logo design.
In other news, the selectboard approved $400 for a bulbs planting. The bulbs will be planted along Route 100 municipal properties.