Notes from June 6, 2016

WCSU Act 46 Elementary Study Group

Notes from the meeting of June 6, 2016 - Rich Werner, Chair

On Monday night, June 6, 2016 at the Marlboro School, the Dover School Board voted to enter into a study with the Wardsboro and Marlboro School Boards.  This was the result of over two (2) years of work that the School Board has undertaken to attempt to determine what is best for our students and the voters/ taxpayers of Dover.

Since the inception of Act 60/ 68, the School Board has worked closely with the Dover Select Board to offer to our community educationally sound taxpayer friendly budgets. With our last two administrators, this cooperation has resulted in increased opportunity and better educational results for our students, while maintaining what we believe to be a reasonable and stable homestead tax rate.

In January 2015, the State Legislature enacted what has become known as Act 46. This Act allowed for local school districts and boards to examine and research options that could enhance student opportunities.  Act 46 also allows for the Secretary of Education and the State Board of Education to possibly create districts that they believe will increase educational opportunity for students, if the local districts do not present a plan on their own.

Act 46 is the law although some people do not agree with it. The Dover Board felt from the start that for us to do what is best for our students and residents, we should explore the options that Act 46 presented to us.

Since May of 2015, acting as both Windham Central Supervisory Union Officers and Dover Board Members, we have been involved in monthly meetings to explore what common ground there was for Windham Central schools, as well as engaging other school districts and supervisory unions for additional opportunities.  At the same time, the Dover School Board separately explored opportunities for the community and set up local committees. These committees explored various options including becoming a charter/ magnet/ private school.

In April of 2016, after participating in a Exploratory Committee with Windham Central Supervisory Union, meetings with the Dover tax payers, parents, and concerned residents, and our Town Meeting Survey, it became clear to the School Board that the although we as a Board do not know what the best solution is at this time, several specific conclusions are apparent:
        1-Many value the Dover School and it’s importance to the community
         2-Many want to see the International Baccalureate program continue
3-Three quarters of those that completed surveys did not want to see 7th and 8th grades remain in Dover
         4-School Choice is very important

It was decided by the School Board in April that the best course of action would be to participate in a Study group with other school districts in the area that offer elementary education with secondary school choice. A motion was passed to that effect in April by the School Board.

In May 2016 Windham Central Supervisory Union completed the exploratory study with a consultant and decided that the best option for the Supervisory Union would be a “side by side” with Wardsboro, Marlboro and Dover forming a side of elementary schools with secondary choice, and Windham, Townshend, Newfane, Jamiaca and Brookline forming a Pre-K through 12 district as the other side. (Stratton, which is also part of the Windham Central Supervisory Union, is researching options that involve other school districts that do not operate any schools.)

On Monday night, June 6, 2016,  Wardsboro, Marlboro and Dover made similar motions to form the study committee.  The final motion contains language that the Dover Board Members felt were important, including the number of Study Committee Members, communications and a proposed timeline for the study to be completed (this was to allow for a vote at Town Meeting 2017).

The Study Committee will be made up of 10 members, four (4) from Dover, three (3) from Marlboro and three (3) from Wardsboro.  The local Board appoints the members of the committee to represent their town.  There are only two requirements to the appointments:  that there be at least one School Board Member and that all members must be residents of the Town that they represent.

The Study Group will decide when and where they meet.  Although we do not at this time know when and where the meetings will be, it is apparent that in order to complete their work and present the report prior to a Town Meeting vote, there will probably be at least two meetings a month and possibly more.  Anyone serving on the Study Committee will need to be committed to attending all the meetings and participating so that the interest of our community can be represented.

Anyone who would like to be a member of the Study Committee is asked to please submit their availability in writing to the Dover School Board, at the Dover School by the end of the day Tuesday, June 14.  The Dover School Board will meet on Wednesday, June 15 after our annual staff luncheon to discuss and vote on the membership of the Study Committee.

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