Jill Stahl Tyler: Brattleboro Town School Board (incumbent)

BRATTLEBORO — As a member of the Brattleboro Town School Board since 2011, I've seen firsthand the extraordinary work done by dedicated professionals. I'm running to continue to ensure that excellence, particularly as we move towards a merged entity under the state-mandated Act 46.

To comply with Act 46, I have led our board through reviewing all options, including the alternative governance plan. I could not support the alternative governance option because legal and financial experts had serious concerns of its legalities, particularly regarding sharing of staff.

I am saddened by the rancor surrounding Act 46. I am very aware that the town voted against the Study Committee's articles for how to merge. Many said they “voted against merging.”

However, a merger has always been required by the law. In fact, as of Nov. 30, 2018, Brattleboro is already considered by the state to be a merged entity, with Guilford, Dummerston, and Putney. At this point, our merger process will be stopped only by an injunction, a new law or amendment, or a determination by the courts that Act 46 is illegal.

I am convinced that merging will have positive outcomes for our students by increasing student offerings, increasing equity for students, sharing staff for reduced costs, offering fewer part-time and more full-time positions to attract more candidates, offering elementary public school choice within our own district, and increasing our local voice with the creation of individual, school-based leadership councils, made up of parents, staff, and community members.

Interestingly, the merger process mirrors what I've gone through personally as a mother. I've gone from thinking only of my own child's education to seeing Academy School as a continuum that builds upon each year, to looking at equity between our Brattleboro schools in order for our students to have equal footing when they arrive at Brattleboro Area Middle School, to realizing that all our kids end up at the same high school - and that working together is a better path for all.

As a mother to three, I've been heavily involved in the schools, from volunteer teaching to fundraising to chaperoning to chairing book fairs to even bringing in a baby calf for show and tell. I've supported education by creating the Brattleboro School Endowment with another parent friend. (We have about $65,000 already raised - and, yes, we'll take more donations!)

I have seen many changes in our students' needs since I became a board member in 2011. Our community has seen decreased student numbers - and increased need. Students are experiencing food insecurity, homelessness, foster care, and other traumas. Yet our schools continue to find solutions and rise to the challenges, even garnering awards and state and national attention for the results.

I've been honored to be a part of this, and I ask for your vote to continue.

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