6/7/17

June 7, 2017 - Important Update on Revote!

For Immediate Release: June 7, 2017  Important Update on Revote in Dover

Contacts: 
Dover School Board Chair Richard Werner (802) 380-7731
Windham Central Supervisory Union Superintendent William Anton (802) 365-9510
Dover Town Clerk Andy McLean (802) 464-5100


Dover to revote Act 46 merger articles

Voters in the Dover School District will re-vote approval of Act 46 merger Articles of Agreement with Wardsboro on Tuesday, July 11th by Australian ballot at the Dover Town Hall after being notified by the Vermont Agency of Education of a discrepancy in the Town Meeting articles voted on by Dover, Wardsboro and Marlboro.  Following is a summary of events necessitating the re-vote.

The Dover, Wardsboro and Marlboro Act 46 Study Committee’s final report included Articles of Agreement that prohibit closure of a school unless approved by the voters of the town in which the building is located found in Article 15, paragraph 2.  The State Board of Education approved the Study Committee’s report, with the all incorporated Articles on December 20, 2016.

The voters in Dover, Wardsboro and Marlboro voted on March 7, 2017 whether to approve the Articles of Agreement and form a new Unified Union Supervisory District.  Dover approved those articles while Wardsboro and Marlboro did not.  Approval by the voters of Marlboro was not necessary to form a new Unified Union Supervisory District.

Voters in Wardsboro petitioned for a reconsideration vote which was warned for May 1, 2017 and Wardsboro voters subsequently approved formation of the new Unified Union.
On May 30th, the AOE notified Windham Central Supervisory Union Superintendent Bill Anton that the Dover Warning for the March 7 vote included language not included in the other two town’s warnings.  Dover’s warning added a final additional sentence in Article 1: “No elementary school shall be closed without a unanimous vote of the River Valleys Unified School District Board, and an affirmative vote of the town in which it is located.”   

The AOE notified Superintendent Anton that the final sentence was not included in the final report on the proposed Articles of Agreement approved by the State Board of Education on the 20th day of December, 2016, which is on file in the town clerk’s office, and which will govern the River Valleys Unified School District.  The Wardsboro Warning for the May 1, 2017 Reconsideration Vote did not include the additional final sentence included in the Dover Warning.

The AOE consulted with Will Senning, Vermont’s Director of Elections at the Secretary of State’s Office and Chris Leopold, education attorney, regarding the discrepancy and subsequently notified Superintendent Anton that a re-vote was necessary.

The school closure protections of Article 15 (closure only if approved by voters of host town) are explicitly referenced in paragraph(c) of both the Dover March 7 Warning and the Wardsboro May 1 Warning – and therefore can only be amended by a vote of the UUSD electorate per Vermont statute 16 VSA § 706n.  It is the “unanimous vote of the River Valleys Unified School District Board” wording that was only in the Dover Warning which is problematic.   That wording can only be modified by the voters of the Dover School district.

Dover Town Clerk Andy McLean has posted the new warning on the Dover town website and will have absentee ballots available starting immediately.

Dover School Board Chair Rich Werner, who also chaired of the Act 46 Merger Study committee, indicated that the Dover School Board formally voted to recommend approval of the articles and the new warning.  The board had previously not taken a position on the merger for the Town Meeting Day Vote.

“Given the overwhelming approval Dover and Wardsboro’s voters have shown the merger, our board felt it was important to clearly support the sentiment of those votes.  While closure of either school is unanticipated, the articles are clear that only the voters in the host town can vote to close a school.  That does not change in this revote which will simply mirror the wording our neighbors in Wardsboro approved.”

Werner noted that time for questions and discussion on the revote will be a part of the Dover School boards June 19th agenda.  That meeting will take place at 6 PM and will be followed by an informal meeting of Dover and Wardsboro citizens discussing future opportunities in the River Valleys School District.

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