School boards sign off on sale of old high school building to OSEC
by Mike Eldred
Oct 03, 2017 | 3072 views | 0 0 comments | 139 139 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Gov. Phil Scott. left, chats with OSEC president Steve Goldfarb, center, and Rep. John Gannon outside the old high school in Wilmington. Scott paid the facility a visit as part of a daylong tour of the Deerfield Valley.
view slideshow (2 images)
WILMINGTON- Four school boards met Tuesday evening, to approve the sale and lease of the former high school, elect a new Twin Valley School Board Chair to replace outgoing chair Seth Boyd, and to organize the new Twin Valley Unified Union School District Board.

Wilmington, Whitingham, Twin Valley, and Twin Valley Union boards were called into session at various times during the meeting, sometimes with more than one board in session at a time. Acting TVSB chair Kathy Larsen opened the meeting with a call for nominations for a new chair. Seth Boyd, who served as Twin Valley chair for many years, recently announced he would step down from the board, maintaining a position as a Whitingham board member until the board ceases to exist on June 30. Board member John Doty nominated Sharon Berry as chair, which was seconded and unanimously approved.

Wilmington School Board Chair Adam Grinold kicked off discussions with an update on Twin Valley’s three-year, $60,000 per-year lease with the Old School Enrichment Council for use of the former high school. Grinold sought the Twin Valley School Board’s approval for Berry to sign the lease document. Grinold said the lease included the hours and space initially requested by Twin Valley Athletic Director Buddy Hayford, as well as a few extra hours. “We also reserved the hours of 6 to 8 am for school use,” Grinold said. “It wasn’t in the original proposal, and there may be a time when we say we just don’t need that time, or maybe OSEC comes to the school and says, ‘If you’re not using it, can we use it?’”

At the school attorney’s insistence, the lease also includes a clause allowing Twin Valley to sublease their use of the school. “Say there’s legislative action that disallows our use of the school,” Grinold said, “This would allow us to sublet it.”

Boyd pointed out to board members that, although the school’s lease secured exclusive use of certain spaces during the times Hayford listed, “Otherwise we don’t have priority on the space, and if another group wants to lease it outside of those hours, we don’t get preference, even though we’re the top rent-payer.”

Boyd also said that the lease doesn’t reserve any summer hours. “If the school wants or needs to use the building during the summer, there’s no provision for that.”

“So if we anticipate a use, we’ll have to plan ahead and request it from OSEC,” said Doty.

Later in the meeting, Grinold noted that there would be no additional charge to the school for use of the building outside of the times and places specified in the lease.

Boyd also asked if it was possible, from a legal standpoint, to sign a lease with OSEC before they own the building. “If (OSEC) doesn’t close on the building, then there’s no lease,” Grinold said.

Twin Valley board members voted unanimously to authorize Berry to sign the lease.

Later in the meeting, the board also authorized Windham Southwest Supervisory Union Business Manager Karen Atwood to write a check, payable to OSEC, for the first year’s rent.

The board also authorized $20,000 to be placed in escrow for removal of an underground oil tank at the former high school, and possible soil remediation in the event that oil is found there. The removal and remediation was a condition of the purchase and sale agreement between Wilmington and OSEC, and the two parties agreed that the escrow would satisfy the requirement.

Grinold called the Wilmington board to order, and asked for a motion to approve the warranty deed transferring ownership of the school to OSEC. The motion was made and unanimously passed with no discussion. Grinold said the sale would be considered closed as soon as OSEC signs the documents and files them with the Wilmington Town Clerk – probably on Thursday, he estimated.

In other actions, the Twin Valley Unified Union School District Board was also called to order for their organization. Although the members of the new board, all Twin Valley board members as well, were present at the new district’s first meeting, Tuesday evening was their first time to meet on their own business.

Board member Kathy Larsen said the board could, for the sake of convenience, keep the same officers as the “joint contract” board. “My thought is to keep as much as possible with our present organization, and that goes for policy work and everything else,” agreed Doty.

“But you’ll still have to go through the same election process so that it makes it into the minutes,” noted WSSU Superintendent Chris Pratt. Pratt called for nominations for chair, and Berry was elected unanimously again. Board members quickly appointed a slate of officers mirroring the existing Twin Valley board.

In related matters, Whitingham board member Clare Watkin agreed to serve Boyd’s term on the Twin Valley joint contract board, but said she couldn’t commit to serving on the Twin Valley union board. The union board will seek a new board member to appoint.

In financial matters, Atwood reported that Twin Valley was left with a fund balance of about $254,000 at the end of the 2017 fiscal year. “We ended up in pretty good shape,” she said.

Atwood also told board members that information regarding Act 46 transition funding has not been forthcoming from the state. “The AOE has been pretty tightlipped on a lot of things lately,” Pratt said.

Twin Valley Elementary School Principal Rebecca Fillion said there were a number of exciting things happening at the school, including the hiring of an ESL teacher to work with Spanish-speaking students who recently moved to the area. Fillion said she was teaching students some basic Spanish to help with integration. Fillion also noted that Pratt surprised students with a bagpipe concert Tuesday. “It was powerful for students, and a good opportunity to talk about learning something new,” she said.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet

Comment Policy

In an effort to promote reasoned discussion, transparency, and integrity in online commenting, The Deerfield Valley News requires anyone posting comments to identify themselves using their real name. Anonymous commenting will not be allowed. All comments will be subject to approval before posting, and may take up to 24 hours for approval to be granted.

We encourage civil discourse among readers, and ask that they be willing to stand behind their identities and their comments. No personal harassment or hate speech will be tolerated. Please be succinct and to the point. For longer comments, please consider submitting a letter to the editor instead. It will appear in both the print and online editions.

All comments will be reviewed, and we reserve the right to reject, edit or remove any comment for any reason. For questions or to express concerns feel free to contact our office at (802) 464-3388.