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Towns, schools count down to merger

Early voting begins for new Windham Southeast School Board, set to replace current structure July 1

BRATTLEBORO—The final countdown has begun toward the July 1 deadline for the creation of a Windham Southeast School District Board, for which early voting is already in progress.

In the midst of this legal transition, a consortium of Vermont school districts has filed a motion for summary judgment, urging the court to immediately vacate the state Department of Education’s Nov. 30, 2018 order.

The May 6 filing calls the DOE’s mandate “unconstitutional and contrary to law.”

If no judicial or legislative action delays or halts the merger process, here’s what will be happening over the next two months.

Pre-election meetings

The Windham Southeast School District transition board plans two meetings, on Monday, May 13, at 7 p.m., at Oak Grove School in Brattleboro and on Thursday, May 16, at 6 p.m., at Guilford Central School.

The transition board is in the process of creating the articles of agreement, the rules that govern important decisions such as grade configurations or possible school closures.

On Tuesday, May 14, responses from candidates who responded to a voluntary questionnaire will be posted on the Windham Southeast website, wsesu.org.

A candidate forum was held on May 5 in Brattleboro. That forum can be seen on BCTV or streamed on the community access channel’s website, brattleborotv.org.

Election day

A special election will be held on Tuesday, May 21, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

At this election, eight school board directors for the new merged school board for Brattleboro, Dummerston, Guilford, and Putney will be elected.

Each town will have two seats on the merged board, and voters will pick members for all four towns.

On the ballot:

Three residents of Brattleboro, Dummerston, and Putney for a one-year term. Kristina Naylor is running unopposed from Dummerston. Brattleboro has two candidates, Robin Morgan and Emily Murphy Kaur. Putney also has two candidates, Timothy Morris, and Sergio Simunovic.

Three residents of Brattleboro, Guilford, and Putney for a two-year term. Ricky Davidson, David Schoales, and Susan Schmitt are the Brattleboro candidates. Anne Beekman is the Putney candidate, and there are no candidates on the ballot from Guilford.

Kelly Young, a Guilford representative on the transition board, has agreed to a write-in candidacy for the slot [Letters from Readers, D2–D3].

Two residents of Dummerston and Guilford for a three-year term. Robert Thibault of Dummerston and Shaun Murphy of Guilford are the candidates for those seats.

Early/absentee ballots available

Early/absentee ballots for this election are available from the town clerk in these four towns. Anyone wishing to vote prior to May 21 may apply for an early/absentee ballot until 5 p.m. on Monday, May 20.

Early/absentee ballots may be voted in person in the town clerk’s office, mailed to the voter by the clerk’s office, picked up by the voter or, if a voter so needs, can be delivered to the voter’s residence by two justices of the peace.

All voted ballots must be received by the town clerk before the polls close on Election Day in order to be counted.

Vermont has same-day voter registration. However, to save time on Election Day, it is advisable to get all registration forms in to the Town Clerk’s office in advance, or register to vote by visiting olvr.sec.state.vt.us.

If you are unsure if your name is listed as a registered voter or for more information about voter registration and early/absentee voting, contact your Town Clerk’s office.

After the election

The new board will start work immediately after the election. Members will be sworn in on Wednesday, May 22, and the transition board will disband.

The first annual meeting of the Windham Southeast School District will take place on Tuesday, June 25, at 7 p.m. at the Brattleboro Union High School gymnasium to consider a budget for the 2019-20 school year, and other issues. Only voters who are present at the meeting will be able to cast ballots.

On Sunday, June 30, the town school boards in Brattleboro, Dummerston, Guilford, and Putney will disband, and on Monday, July 1, the newly elected WSESD Board will assume oversight of the merged district’s school budget and school properties.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #509 (Wednesday, May 8, 2019). This story appeared on page A1.

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