First floor meeting for new regional school district set

MANCHESTER — The first floor meeting of the new Taconic and Green Regional School District will be held under an event tent on the grounds of the Hildene estate in Manchester.

According to the posted warning for the initial meeting, voters from the nine towns comprising the district will meet June 6 at 5:30 p.m. to elect the first moderator, clerk and treasurer and take care of other preliminary business to establish the regional entity.

Voters in the nine towns overwhelmingly approved forming the unified K-8 district on town meeting day, March 7, and simultaneously elected the first 13-member regional school board.

The board will meet for the first time in July and begin planning to implement the new regional structure, before officially assuming control of the Taconic and Green district schools and programming from the current separate districts in July 2018.

Contacted Friday, Bennington-Rutland Supervisory Union Superintendent Jacquelyne Wilson agreed that the first meeting could potentially be "a gigantic floor meeting," as voters from Manchester, Dorset, Londonderry, Danby, Sunderland, Mt. Tabor, Peru, Landgrove and Weston may attend.

Vermont Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe will be on hand for the first meeting to open the session, Wilson said, before the first moderator is elected from the floor and assumes that role.

All of the town clerks also will attended to check the voter lists for those participating in the meeting.

In the future, most district voting, including for committee members, officers and budgets, will be done by Australian ballot in the individual towns.

Winning at large seats March 7 on the 13-member regional board were Jessica Stone-Watson and David Chandler, both of Dorset; and Georgeanne Bonifanti and Joe Hoffman, both of Manchester. The elected town representatives are Lauralee Van Ommen Kloeke, of Danby; James Salsgiver, of Dorset; Jeff Cleary, of Landgrove; Dick Dale, of Londonderry; Mark Kaplan, of Manchester; Herbert Ogden, of Mt. Tabor; Jay Ouellette, of Peru; Melanie Virgilio, of Sunderland, and Debra Lyneis, of Weston.

Wilson said the new board must meet and organize itself within 30 days of the first district-wide floor meeting.

The BRSU is expected to remain as the supervisory union for the Taconic and Green schools, Wilson said, and other current union member towns, such as Rupert, Pawlet and Winhall, could consider remaining or joining another union in the area. Arlington school officials also have discussed coming under the BRSU amid school district merger talks prompted by Act 46.

In the Northshire, a 17-member regional committee worked for about a year to develop a proposal to merge the individual Taconic and Green districts under provisions of Act 46, which encourages consolidation among Vermont districts and offers a tax incentive.

Students in Grades 9 through 12 in the Taconic and Green towns will have choice options and receive tuition support to attend a secondary school of choice, such as Burr and Burton Academy or Long Trail School.

Jim Therrien writes for the Bennington Banner and @BB_therrien on Twitter.


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