While the boards were meeting, voting on the Twin Valley School budget was under way in Wilmington and Whitingham. The budget passed handily in Whitingham, but there was more opposition in Wilmington. Wilmington taxpayers face a $56,000 Act 68 “excess spending penalty” this year.
Only 87 voters from Whitingham weighed in on the $5,244,234 joint school district budget, about 10% of the town’s 878 voters. Of those, 65 voted in favor of the budget, and 22 were opposed.
In Wilmington, turnout was even lower, with 95 of the town’s 1,555 voters coming out to vote on the budget, about 7.5%. In Wilmington, the margin was much tighter, however, with 55 people voting in favor of the budget and 40 voting in opposition.
In Wilmington School Board matters, board members considered a proposal from Dover School regarding a partnership for providing early educational services for 3-year-olds. School board chair Phil Taylor noted that, under Dover’s proposal, Wilmington would be required to guarantee the placement of nine children in the program each year.
“There’s no way you can guarantee that,” said DVES Principal Rebecca Fillion. “The population varies quite a bit, as does parents’ availability to bring kids to preschool.”
Fillion said the proposal might not be a benefit from an educational standpoint. “We felt the benefit to having 3-year-olds at all is to have them in your school to develop the routines and language of your school,” she said. “The benefit comes from having them in your building, right now they come to us from different settings, Mount Snow Daycare, Kids in the Country, wherever.”
And Fillion also wondered if a partnership with Dover would “open the door to having to reimburse people for other 3-year-old programs. If you’re paying for ‘threes’ in Dover, do you have to pay for ‘threes’ in other settings? That would affect the number of students who would participate.”
Board members decided not to pursue the matter with Dover. “If it doesn’t benefit the DVES education program,” said Taylor, before moving on to the next agenda item.
Board member Dennis Richter said that board member Adam Grinold, who wasn’t at the meeting, had resigned as the budget committee representative for the school board. Richter volunteered to take Grinold’s place, an offer that was quickly approved.
Grinold, who recently accepted a position as the interim executive director of the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce, also resigned from the WSSU superboard, Richter said. “He said he would like to pick it back up again, but in the interest of better serving the supervisory union he wanted to step down for now,” added Taylor.
Board member Doug Swanson moved to appoint Taylor to the supervisory union. “I accept with glee,” Taylor said.
The supervisory union board convened at 7 pm and Richter, chair of the superboard, called for a nomination of a vice- chair, a position previously held by Grinold. Whitingham board member John Doty nominated fellow board member Dwight Williams to the position, seconded by Whitingham board member Aimee Reed. With no further nominations, the board appointed Williams as vice chair.
But when Richter announced that Taylor had been appointed to take Grinold’s place on the board, Readsboro board member Larry Hopkins asked if the appointment had been “submitted to be verified.” Hopkins said the board’s rules of procedure required that the minutes of the meeting at which Taylor was appointed needed to be submitted before the appointment could be finalized. “Unless we can document that, I suggest (Taylor) doesn’t vote tonight.”
“Well, we just had the meeting tonight,” explained Richter.
Hopkins withdrew his request.
After an executive session regarding the payment of legal fees that had been billed to the supervisory union, the board approved an amended budget of $1,354,201. Richter said the budget is lower than the current budget. “We tried to keep it down, and (WSSU Superintendent Jack Rizzo), realizing what kind of financial constraints districts had this year, really tried to keep the budget down.” Richter says one supervisory union position was eliminated, and the assistant superintendent’s hours were reduced.