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Feb 20, 2003 to Feb 6, 2013

Act 46 Meeting Agenda and Minutes

Representing the Brattleboro Town School District, Dummerston Town School District, Guilford Town School District, Putney Town School District and the Vernon Town School District http://www.wssu.k12.vt.us


The Act 46 Study Committee will meet at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in the Oak Grove School Gymnasium.


I. CALL TO ORDER – 6:00 p.m. – Alice Laughlin, Committee Chair






Review Process and Compliance
Agency of Education Staff and Attorney Chris Leopold



Note: In accordance with the following excerpt from WSESU Policy E-12 Electronic Communications Use and Retention

II. Use of E-Mail and Electronic Communications

The school board and administration will not use email as a substitute for discussion at board meetings, or for any business properly conducted at board meetings subject to the Vermont Open Meeting Law.

Brattleboro Town School District, Dummerston Town School District, Guilford Town School District, Putney Town School District and Vernon Town School District Act 46 Study Committee
Work Session Agenda, Minutes & Action Items – June 6, 2017 at 6-8 PM – WRCC Cusick Room

Brattleboro: Kim Price*, David Schoales**, Jill Stahl Tyler*, Spoon Agave*
BUHS/ BAMS/WRCC: Ricky Davidson*, Ian Torrey* * denotes voting member,
Dummerston: Kristina Naylor** ***, Amy Wall* - Clerk ** denotes alternate voting member,
Guilford: Beth Bristol*, Erin Tkaczyk* *** denotes ex officio member
Putney: Richard Glejzer**, Alice Laughlin* - Chair
Vernon: Walter Breau*, Mike Hebert**

Also present
WSESU: Frank Rucker – Business Manager, Ron Stahley – Superintendent, Lyle Holiday – Curriculum & Assessment
Others: BCTV staff and members of the public listed on the public sign in sheet

Committee Guidelines
1. Work sessions will start and end on time.
2. Work sessions will last 2 hours unless decided otherwise by the Committee.
3. Members will give and receive with good intentions.
4. Members will follow “3 before me” as a guideline so all members have the opportunity to speak.
5. Members will conduct Committee business in front of the group.
6. Members will understand that silence on the part of another member does not imply agreement.
7. Members will site sources of evidence during discussion.
8. All members will be included in conversation and no side conversations will be conducted during the work session.
9. Members will stay on topic during discussions and will request the Clerk make note of additional topic(s) for future discussion.
10. Members will engage in the work at hand and administration will provide the space and support as needed to do so.

Agenda Items Led by
- Call to order Ricky Davidson
- Review, prioritize and establish desired outcomes for meeting Ricky
- Review Study Committee member roles and public comments by Chair Ricky
- Approve of minutes of previous work and info sessions – March 23 Ricky
- Review Study Committee process by Chair Ricky
- Recognition of groups and/or individuals Ricky
- Study Committee Work Session Ricky
- Review Process and compliance
- Future meetings, Discussions Ricky
- Adjournment

Work Session Minutes:
Ricky Davidson called the work session to order at 6:00 pm and shared that Chair Alice Laughlin was unable to attend tonight’s work session due to a family matter. Ricky reviewed agenda items and confirmed with the Committee its usual process for public comments at selected points throughout the work session.

Ricky welcomed the public present and opened the floor to their thoughts, concerns and/or ideas which included:
Disappointment that no one represented the Study Committee at the Westminster forum on alternatives to merger.
On a motion made by Beth Bristol, seconded by Kim Price and so voted, the minutes of March 23 were accepted as written. Richard Glejzer and Ian Torrey abstained since they did not attend the March 23 work session.

Ron Stahley shared copies the letter sent to the State Board of Education and VT Agency of Education requesting guidance and advice by Alice as directed by the Committee at a previous meeting. Ron stated that the State Board of Education declined and deferred to the VT AOE. Donna Russo Savage, VT AOE legal counsel, replied on 3/27/17 and offered to meet to meet with representatives of the Study Committee and administration on 5/8/17. Ron shared that Alice contacted Study Committee representatives to determine availability and confirmed that Ron, Frank, Amy and herself would attend the meeting. Ricky acknowledged an email received from a Dummerston school board member who questioned the authority of those attending the meeting on 5/8/17 and shared that it is the understanding of the Study Committee that members contacted would attend, if available. Since a quorum would not attend, the meeting did not need to be warned. Ron shared that VT AOE staff – Donna Russo Savage, Brad James, Chris Leopold – offered to visit the area to discuss and answer questions related to Act 46, recent changes to the law, and local implications. Ron provided a summary of the main points discussed which focused on House Bill 53/Act 49:

1. Vernon exemption – This new provision allows Vernon only to exit a unified union high school district by hold a revote. Mike Hebert pointed out that the language was narrowly crafted for Vernon only since it is unique in the state and that he felt it important to hold another vote to allow Vernon voters to show their support. Vernon plans to hold a vote on withdrawing from BUHS District #6 in July. Mike shared that he expects his community to reaffirm the August 2016 result in favor of withdrawing from BUHS #6. Ron shared that Secretary Holcombe and Donna Russo Savage were pleased that Vernon was allowed to pursue options. Jill Stahl Tyler asked how Vernon voters could go to the polls understanding the financial implications. Mike confirmed that uncertainty is clear as well as is Vernon’s commitment to school choice. Ron and Frank confirmed that contracted services would be negotiated separately from the Vernon exit agreement crafted by the BUHS and Vernon school boards. Frank shared that Vernon would pay tuition rates based on historical attendance using the state formula. This rate would cover 90-95% of costs but would not including some services (SPED, professional development, transportation) and Vernon would not have a voice on Grade 7-12 matters since it would have no board members. Frank further stated that it was unlikely that the tuition rate would change dramatically than its current rate. Mike shared that Vernon has been approached by 4 other districts and that the State Board of Education will assign districts within the next 2-3 years so that there are no stand-alone districts. Frank stated that there is no real financial impact with Vernon’s withdrawal from BUHS #6 and that the greater risk is to Vernon’s vulnerability to financial spikes.

2. Review of the Articles of Agreement – Frank stated that the VT AOE recognized that:
a. the Study Committee’s findings are consistent with state level results for merging,
b. K-8 choice in the proposed merged district offers significant benefits to students (transfer within district),
c. Greater staff and resource flexibility in the proposed merged district will be achieved,
d. Bureaucratic redundancies will be eliminated, and
e. The proposed merger offers opportunities to create “academies” within the unified district.
f. Some members of WSESU communities did not support the current draft of the report with Articles of Agreement and were researching other options and alternative governance.

3. Next steps – The changes to the law extends the deadline to 11/30/17 and allows for a Fall 2017 vote that maintains the $150k transition grant, retains small school grants and offers property tax reduction for years 1-4 at $0.08/0.06/0.04/0.02. The VT AOE offered to meet with the Study Committee and communities. Ron stated that the date for their visit has been confirmed for June 21 at 6 pm – local location TBD.
Beth Bristol asked if the VT AOE agreed with the Study Committee’s Articles of Agreement. Ron stated that the VT AOE did agree with the report and was impressed with the research done by the Study Committee. At Ricky Davidson suggestion, the Study Committee members compiled the following questions for the June 21 meeting and agreed by consensus to provide them to the AOE in advance of their visit:

1. Are there other structures that would better serve students and communities?
2. Does the AOE have any concerns about the report and its Articles of Agreement?
3. Can the AOE provide a timeline for meeting with the State Board of Ed, its review of the report with Articles and its decision?
4. Can the School Leadership Councils be strengthened?
5. Can the AOE clarify which articles can be changed by the unified board and which require a voter approval?
6. Can the AOE provide a list of outcomes that the state is looking for and any metrics on the same to date?
7. Does the AOE see alternatives that apply to WSESU under the new law?
8. How does the changes under Act 49 impact other alternatives previously considered by the Study Committee?

Ricky Davidson opened the floor to the public for thoughts, concerns and ideas before adjournment:
Consideration of next steps if one town does not approve,
Request for additional changes in the law re: other configurations,
The legislature may have the authority to amend any district’s Articles of Agreement,
Thanks for the work that has been done and encouragement to review other options and listen to communities,
Opposition was not present at the 5/8/17 meeting with the AOE and questions about Chris Leopold’s relationship with State Board of Ed,
Request to look at AGS, legislature misses the point by assuming that larger districts means better education, seek input for communities, and keep schools local,
Considering AGS is not a Study Committee responsibility according to law and has to originate with local boards,
Need for any other options considered to include review of the funding formula so that public education is affordable.

Ricky allowed committee members to address specific items raised by the public including:
Discussion of warned articles at Town Meeting and their outcomes in Guilford, Dummerston, Brattleboro and Putney,
Mention of the ongoing scrutiny of the law for other options by individual members of the Study committee,
Mention of the Dummerston School board subcommittee that has met 5 times and is reviewing 4-5 options,
Lack of understanding of the Dummerston residents continued chastising of the Study Committee, its work and implied ulterior motives,
Request of Dummerston residents to provide specifics and suggestions based on their review of the laws,
Review of the agency fund structure created by Frank at Leland and Gray and how it does not apply to WSESU,
Statement re: self-study option but not the Committee’s mission,
Discussion of shared staffing as separate entities and the inherent inefficiency and complexity, and
Admonishment of Dummerston residents voiced criticism of the Study Committee chair and the failure of the Study committee to attend the Westminster forum.
On a motion made by Amy Wall, seconded by Richard Glejzer, and so voted unanimously, the work session was adjourned at 7:40 pm.

Respectfully submitted, Amy Wall – Committee Clerk

Recordings of all WSESU Act 46 work sessions are available on the BCTV website. Information referenced during work sessions is posted on the Act 46 Study Committee page on the WSESU website.


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