Miniscule voter turnout sends off new district
by Mike Eldred
Sep 19, 2017 | 2261 views | 0 0 comments | 138 138 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Miniscule voter turnout sends off new district
Readsboro and Halifax voters met for a special meeting in Wilmington Tuesday to address several articles related to the newly formed Southern Valley Unified School District.  Rep. Laura Sibilia, right, called the meeting to order and administered the Oath of Office to new school directors for the district. They are, left to right, Mary King, Sue Bailey, Stephanie Powers, Chum Sumner, and Paul Blais. Blais was elected presiding officer, Amanda Holland clerk, and Karen Atwood treasurer. Motions were approved to authorize zero compensation to directors and establish the annual meeting for Thursday, March 1, 2018.  School budgets will still be voted on by Australian ballot on Town Meeting day, March 6, 2018.
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WHITINGHAM- The Twin Valley Unified Union School District got off to a quiet start Tuesday evening, with only one or two non-board members voting at their first special school district meeting.

Not counting board members, the only Wilmington voter in attendance was Christine Richter. Whitingham’s board of civil authority was in attendance, but only Don McKinley and Judy Carrier were there solely as voters.

State board of education member John Carroll, serving as the “temporary temporary moderator,” kicked off the meeting. Despite the dearth of voters at the meeting, Carroll said he was inspired by the democratic spirit in communities like Whitingham and Wilmington, which rose to the challenge of Act 46. “The hard work of the study committees and the involvement of people in the community is democracy at its best,” he said. “Democracy is slipping away in the world, but we do take it seriously here, and that’s something to be proud of.”

Carroll asked the board members elected to the union board in May to stand for their swearing in, officially creating the Twin Valley Unified Union School District Board of Directors. Board members include Sharon Berry and John Doty from Whitingham, and Janna Ewart, Dennis Richter, Kathy Larsen, and Therese Lounsbury from Wilmington. A Whitingham seat on the board remains open after Twin Valley Chair Seth Boyd announced his retirement from the board.

Carroll called for the nomination of a temporary moderator, and Larsen nominated Lounsbury. Receiving unanimous consent from board members and the three voters, Lounsbury took over the meeting.

In quick succession, board members nominated and the three voters approved Leon Corse as moderator for future meetings, Almira Aekus as clerk, and Christine Richter as treasurer. Under an amendment by Larsen, Richter’s term as treasurer will begin at the district’s next annual meeting. “Karen Atwood will continue to be our treasurer until then,” Larsen said. “The district has no money right now, and that will provide a good transition period.”

The district voted to compensate the moderator at the rate of $100 per meeting, $100 per year for the clerk, and $500 per year for the treasurer. Larsen said the rates could be adjusted at a future meeting, depending on the workload officials encounter.

Under Article 5 of the warning, Boyd proposed holding the annual district meeting on the fourth Tuesday in February – one week before Town Meeting. The district meeting would essentially be an informational meeting, with the budget Australian ballot and board member elections occurring a week later, on the same day as the municipal Town Meeting.

Under Articles 6 and 7, the district was authorized to pay bills and borrow funds, if needed, to meet their obligations.

The three voters and board members unanimously agreed to pay board members a $1,200 annual stipend for their work on the board. In Article 10, after discussion between board members and Wilmington Town Clerk Susan Haughwout, the board and the three voters decided not to mail notices of the availability of the annual town report to voters, instead they voted to place a legal notice in their newspaper of record to that effect.

At the end of the meeting, Larsen noted that, with the creation of the union board, there are now four school boards operating in the two towns – TVUUSD board, the Twin Valley joint contract school board, and the Wilmington and Whitingham town school boards. At the next annual meeting, only the TVUUSD board will remain. Larsen also thanked Boyd for his 15 years of service as a board member, and the years he served as chair of the Twin Valley board. She noted that his term on the board 15 years ago began at a time when the “collaboration” that eventually led to the joint contract middle and high school was in early negotiations.

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