Woodford community member sought for Act 46 committee


WOODFORD — The Woodford Hollow Elementary School Board continues to search for a community member to represent the town on the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union's Act 46 study committee.

According to SVSU superintendent Jim Culkeen, no Woodford residents have requested to be considered for the committee in the month since the SVSU board announced that it would be expanding to include community members. Previously the committee, which is tasked with examining the different pathways the SU can take to come into compliance with the 2015 education law, was made up of three board members from Bennington, and one each from North Bennington, Pownal, Shaftsbury, and Woodford. Now, the board is expanding to include three community members from Bennington and, again, one each from each of the smaller member towns. There will also be one board member from the Mount Anthony Union board on the newly reorganized committee.

Woodford board chairman Mark Tilley said that he had asked several people to consider representing the town on the committee, but none had "wanted anything to do with it."

Board member Dick Frantz, who represents the town on the committee, said that he had also had no success, in many cases because people don't want any change. "I'd be very surprised if the electorate would approve any changes here in Woodford," he said, "They like things the way they are. They like the school as the center point of the community, and they don't want that to change."

Culkeen warned that Woodford could end up underrepresented on the committee if they can't find someone by the next meeting. "It would behoove Woodford if we could find someone else, so you can have two on the board."

Frantz said there were many complicated issues at play for Woodford in regards to Act 46, including the state and federal funding it receives due to its small size. He said that there are concerns that if the SVSU does consolidate into a single district, with one board, Woodford staff could be moved to other schools, even if the charter of the new district requires Woodford Elementary to remain open. "We don't want to lose our staff, and we don't want to lose our school," he said.

The Act 46 committee plans to meet for the first time with all its new members on June 21, so that everyone can get acquainted and familiar with the law. They will meet with a consultant from the state for the first time on July 12.

The Woodford School board meets the first Wednesday of every month at 3 p.m. at Woodford Elementary School.

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.


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