Two candidates for 3-year school-board seat, three for two 1-year positions

Davis challenges Stahl-Tyler; Kaur joins Agave and Morgan in three-way race for two one-year seats

BRATTLEBORO — With the controversial Act 46 school merger law looming as the main issue, retired teacher Andy Davis is challenging incumbent and board Chair Jill Stahl-Tyler for a three-year seat on the Town School Board.

Newcomer Emily Murphy Kaur, owner of Setu Yoga, will face incumbents Spoon Agave and Robin Morgan for the two one-year seats on the board.

Candidates squared off during a 1{1/2}-hour candidates' forum on Feb. 25 at Brooks Memorial Library. To view the program, visit

As described in another story this issue, the outcome of a pending ruling in Vermont Superior Court will influence the duration and scope of the Town School Board's work.

Three-year seat

Andy Davis retired last year after more than 25 years teaching music in Brattleboro schools, he has also been a Representative Town Meeting member from District 3.

He said he hadn't planned on running for the School Board, but Act 46 prompted him to seek office.

“I fully support the goals of Act 46: educational opportunity, financial efficiency, and decision-making transparency,” Davis wrote in a letter to The Commons. “However, I continue to question the way the law has been implemented. I would work to represent the best interests of Brattleboro schools - and the schools of our region - as the Legislature, the courts, and the Vermont Department of Education address the various issues.”

He calls the current controversy over the school merger law “a time of great uncertainty for school governance in our town and region” and that “in times of uncertainty it is best to work with the changing situation and to listen to the community.”

Davis says that he is “a good listener. I know the issues, I think clearly and do a fairly good job of expressing myself. No matter where our schools are headed it is important that public support and community involvement are maintained.”

Jill Stahl-Tyler, a member of the Town School Board since 2011, wrote in a candidate statement that she is running “to continue to ensure excellence, particularly as we move towards a merged entity under the state-mandated Act 46.”

To comply with Act 46, Stahl-Tyler said, she led the 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.”

Stahl-Tyler said that “interestingly, the merger process mirrors what I've gone through personally as a mother. I've gone from thinking just 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 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.”

Emily Murphy Kaur's education career started as a middle-school teacher in both a public-school setting and a Montessori school setting, she said during the forum. She said she used that classroom experience to transfer to a position as director of a think-tank in Boston, where she “focused on working with districts and schools to integrate the voices of teachers and community members into the policy-making process more effectively.”

More recently, she and her husband moved to West Brattleboro, where they opened a yoga and meditation retreat center. She is running for office in the “hopes of sharing my skills in grantmaking and qualitative and quantitative research, along with my experiences in inclusive policymaking and innovation.”

• Incumbent Spoon Agave has lived in town approximately 30 years and has held numerous town offices.

“I'm particularly interested in education,” he said at the forum, “because at this point in time in our history, if our children don't have the education they need to solve the problems they're going to face, they're in trouble.”

Agave said he is always contemplating the question of what kids need to know in their world, what kind of world they want it to be, “and how can they get there,” he said.

• Incumbent Robin Morgan believes it is “very important that there are stakeholders at the table on the School Board” and thus brings her perspective as a parent of two children - and a third who will start kindergarten in 2022 - in the local school system.

She says a top priority - and one that she will continue “pushing forward” if re-elected - has been “creating an even more equitable and more inclusive culture” for all students but especially those students who belong to marginalized groups.

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