Happy February! As a member of the Brattleboro Town School Board since 2011, I’ve seen first-hand the extraordinary work done by dedicated professionals. I’m running to continue to ensure that excellence, particularly as we move towards a merged entity under the state-mandated Act 46.
To comply with Act 46, I have led our board through reviewing all options, including the alternative governance plan. I could not support the alternative governance option because legal and financial experts had serious concerns of its legalities, particularly regarding sharing of staff.
I am saddened by the rancor surrounding Act 46. I am very aware that the town voted against the Study Committee’s articles for how to merge. Many said they “voted against merging”. However, a merger has always been required by the law. In fact, as of November 30, 2018, Brattleboro is already considered by the state to be a merged entity, with Guilford, Dummerston and Putney. At this point, our merger process is only stopped by an injunction, a new law or amendment, or a determination by the courts that Act 46 is illegal.
I am convinced that merging will have positive outcomes for our students:
- increases student offerings
- increases equity for students
- shares staff for reduced costs
- offers less part-time and more full-time positions, which attracts more candidates
- offers elementary public school choice within our own district
- increases local voice with the creation of individual, school-based leadership councils, made up of parents, staff and community members
For information of how mergers have worked so far, see Vermont Secretary of Education Dan French January 30, 2019 report to the legislators, on Act 46’s implementation: https://legislature.vermont.gov/Documents/2020/WorkGroups/House%20Education/Governance/W~Daniel%20French~Agency%20of%20Education%20-%20Report%20on%20Act%2046%20of%202015~1-31-2019.pdf Page six talks about increased student opportunities and educational equity; page eight looks at financial savings (one exceeds $2 million).
Interestingly, the merger process mirrors what I’ve gone through personally as a mother. I’ve gone from thinking just of my own child’s education… to seeing Academy School as a continuum that builds upon each year … to looking at equity between our Brattleboro Schools in order to have equal footing when they arrive at BAMS … to realizing that all our kids end up at the same high school, and that working together is a better path for all.
As a mother to three, I’ve been heavily involved in the schools. I have done volunteer teaching to fundraising to chaperoning to chairing book fairs to even bringing in a baby calf for show and tell. I’ve supported education by creating the Brattleboro School Endowment with another parent friend (we have about $65,000 already raised—and yes, we’ll take more donations!). To make sure the great stuff happening in our schools is known to the town’s population, I write a column for the Brattleboro Reformer. You can read any of those columns at http://www.brattleboroschoolendowment.org/education-matters
I believe that our schools—and our supervisory union—offer so much that I even agreed to coordinate two exchange student programs. These kids have a fabulous experience in our area, and are astonished at all they can learn and do here.
I have seen many changes in our students’ needs since I became a board member in 2011. Our community has seen decreased student numbers—and increased need. Student are experiencing food insecurity, homelessness, foster care and other traumas. Our schools continue to find solutions and rise to the challenges, even garnering awards and state and national attention for the results.
I’ve been honored to be a part of this, and I ask for your vote to continue.