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Transitional board builds a district, one decision at a time

Windham Southeast School District organizes and sets some fundamental policy

BRATTLEBORO—On April 2, voters resumed the special meeting of what is now the Windham Southeast School District, originally convened Feb. 27 but adjourned pending a judge’s ruling in a multi-town lawsuit filed in Vermont Superior Court challenging the forced mergers.

After a judge denied an injunction that sought to halt the activity while a lawsuit moves through the judicial system, the Act 46 merger has returned to the fast track [“School districts, voters tread lightly around Act 46 suit,” News, March 13], the legal process of creating the architecture of a new school district continued apace.

The 11-article meeting warning came straight out of the default articles of agreement provided by the Agency of Education to districts that were required to merge.

Voters approved the following articles:

• Election of district officers: Steven Brown as moderator, Barbara Nowakowski as clerk, and Frank Rucker as Treasurer.

• The first annual meeting of the district will take place on Tuesday, June 25, due to the district’s accelerated timeline as it goes through the merger process.

Starting in 2020, and going forward, the annual meeting will occur on the third Tuesday in March.

• Voters approved electing the District School Board by Australian ballot. This vote will normally coincide with Annual Town Meeting in March.

• The district officers — moderator, clerk, and treasurer — requested they not receive compensation for their work. Voters agreed.

• District School Board members will receive $4,000 a year, with the chair receiving $6,000. Total board compensation will be $34,000.

An audience member asked for a “ballpark” figure for how much the boards in Brattleboro, Dummerston, Guilford, and Putney will collectively make.

According to an estimate from the administration, that ballpark figure is $52,000.

• The administration received authorization to pay for expenses incurred by the district as it moves through the transition process and before its budget is approved.

As an example of such an expense, Rucker noted $20,000 needed for software updates to the district’s accounting software.

• Voters approved the district borrowing money pending receipt of payments from the State Education Fund.

• The school board will provide mailed notice — such as a postcard — once the annual report is ready. This notice will be in place of mailing the actual annual report to all residents.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #505 (Wednesday, April 10, 2019). This story appeared on page A1.

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