Tuesday February 19, 2013

DAWSON RASPUZZI

Staff Writer

ARLINGTON -- Maureen Harvey was elected in 2011 to fill a two-year term on the Arlington School District board after K. John Smith vacated and then declined the seat. This Town Meeting Day, Smith hopes to win back that seat in a contested race against Harvey.

Maureen Harvey

Harvey is looking to retain the seat, with the intent of following through with initiatives the board started during her tenure.

"I enjoy being on the school board and I want to help continue with what I've started, which was setting up financial policies and procedures," Harvey said. "We've had a lot of finance problems in the past and I think we're working in a good direction now."

Last summer, BVSU began contracting all of its business services from Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union, which Harvey said has made business operations run smoothly while previous problems have been rectified. Harvey is not willing to say the contracted services should be permanent, however. "I think that they've been a great help to get us aligned to where we need to be. The future is going to need to be discussed," she said.

Harvey, who works as a bookkeeper for Burr and Burton Academy and sits on ASD's Finance Committee, expects she will be able to add to those discussions because of her background in school finance.

Her experience on the Policy Committee is also an attribute to the board, she said. "I'm very interested in policies and do a lot of research and try to help update our polices ... it's something important and something I'm pretty good at," she said.

Harvey also hopes to get re-elected so she can see through the questions surrounding the viability of Battenkill Valley Supervisory Union. The State Board of Education in 2010 mandated BVSU study its dissolution and report back this summer whether member districts will join Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union in Bennington or Bennington-Rutland Supervisory Union in Sunderland.

Harvey has sat in on meetings with superintendents from both supervisory unions; however, she still feels the best option is staying put. "Right now it has not been proven to me we should be anywhere other than where we are," Harvey said, adding that she will keep an open mind as the process progresses.

K. John Smith

Smith is running for the school board he sat on for a dozen years because he wants to lend his experience as the district tackles two significant transitions -- the question of BVSU's governance and the hiring of a new principal of Arlington Memorial Middle and High School. Smith is already involved in the principal selection as a community representative on the search committee that hopes in March to have a new principal chosen to begin in the fall. As for the dissolution study, Smith said he will wait for a presentation from independent consultants regarding whether BVSU should be dissolved before he takes a stance on any of the options.

"I think we need to look at the facts and hopefully (the consultants) will present those to us," he said.

Smith, who is vice president of information technology and customer operations at The Orvis Company, sat on the ASD board from 1999 through 2011 and was chairman for many of those years. That experience, he said, will help the board now as it considers its possibilities.

"I think (I bring) longevity and understanding of how we got to where we are," Smith said. "I think it's helpful to bring some of that history forward."

In February 2011, citing time commitment constraints, Smith resigned from his post on the school board with just a month remaining on the term. Smith then declined the seat when he was re-elected in March. At the time he was the only candidate on the ballot and, although he announced beforehand he would decline the seat, he still beat out Harvey who ran a write-in campaign for the seat.

Smith, who is also running unopposed for a seat on the Select Board this spring, said he has more time now and has no doubts he can take on the responsibilities of both positions.

Contact Dawson Raspuzzi at draspuzzi@benningtonbanner.com or follow on Twitter @DawsonRaspuzzi