MANCHESTER >> On Friday, the Manchester Big RED Act 46 Study Committee announced plans to increase the frequency of meetings over the summer, as well as roll out a website so that the public can be aware of what the committee is working on.
"Every district in Vermont has its own mix of unique circumstances," said chairman Jon Wilson, who until recently was also chairman of the Manchester School Board. "The combination of the districts in our study committee brings its own set of complexities. But I am more than optimistic, given the thoughtfulness of our committee members and their collaborative spirit, that this group will be up to the task."
The Big RED (Regional Education District) committee is made up of representatives from Danby, Dorset, Manchester, Mount Tabor and Sunderland; and from the four communities in the Mountain Towns RED — Londonderry, Landgrove, Peru and Weston.
The committee's first goal is to determine the viability of merging those districts into a single RED, which would have one board, one budget, and one tax rate, similar to when the four districts merged in 2012 to form the Mountain Towns RED.
The board met three times during May and June, but will be increasing the frequency of their meetings over the summer. Their next meeting is scheduled for July 6, at 6 p.m., in the Manchester Elementary Middle School library. Their most significant action so far was hiring Dan French, who last month resigned as superintendent of the BRSU, as the committee's consultant.
One possible scenario that French had previously put forward was that the BRSU could remain a supervisory union, but with fewer member districts. The Big RED districts would then merge into a single district; Pawlet, Rupert, and Wells, which have tuition agreements with New York schools, would be a second district; and Sandgate, Winhall, and Stratton, which do not operate any schools, would be a third.
The Big RED representation is based on population. Danby is represented by Jen Louden and Jessica Watson. Dorset is represented by Jim Mirenda, Richard Grip, and Elizabeth Karet. Manchester is represented by Wilson, Jim Lind, Ed Morrow, Betsy Bleakie, and Meg Kenny. Mount Tabor is represented by Bill Beauregard. Mountain Towns RED is represented by Deb Lyneis, Jay Ouellette, Kimberly Eckhardt, and Richard Dale. Finally, Sunderland is represented by Jennifer Rosenthal and Nancy Wolf.
Committee members have urged other residents of those communities to attend meetings and express their opinions.
"We would like the public to come to the meetings to listen to the decision-making process, which may help to dispel any misconceptions people may have regarding Act 46 and its intended outcomes," said Grip, the committee's vice-chairman.
Meeting agendas and minutes are now available on the BRSU's website, but the committee is working on creating their own dedicated website, which will include member contacts, information on Act 46, and more.
If you have any questions about the committee's work, please contact Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 802-379-8472.
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.