2017-10-26 / Front Page

Merged Northfield/Williamstown Schools New Board Holding Regular Meetings

Peter Evans
School Board Member

The board of directors that is overseeing the merger of the Northfield and Williamstown School Districts into one, unified district is now meeting on a regular basis with an eye toward completing the transition to a single school district by June 30, 2018. The new board will be using a variety of forums in order to communicate their work, involve the residents of both communities in decision making and to receive feedback along the way.

For this first post, we pose a few questions that residents of our communities might be asking about the status of the merger work.  Answers are provided that will offer some information regarding the new board, the critical goals for the year and insights into what to expect in the coming weeks and months.

Who are the members of the new board?

The nine member board includes five representatives from Northfield and four from Williamstown The number of members representing each town is based on population.  The board members are:

Marie Abare (W)

Mike Bailey (N)

Sophia Bennett (N)

Horace Duke (W)

Peter Evans (N)

Amanda Mills-Brown (W)

Christine Motyka (N)

Rama Schneider (W)

Justin Wrigley (N)

At the organizational meeting, Peter Evans was elected chair, Rama Schneider was elected vice-chair and Amanda Mills-Brown was elected clerk.

When and where do board meetings take place?

The board is meeting twice a month: the first Monday of the month in Northfield from 6:00-8:00 pm and the third Wednesday in Williamstown from 6:00-8:00 pm. The Northfield meetings are held in the Community Room of Brown Public Library and in Williamstown meetings are held in the library of Williamstown Middle and High School.  

The board has met four times since August 31st with the first three meetings primarily devoted to getting organized, electing officers, determining meeting schedule, discussing the role of students on the board and establishing board norms.  

All meetings are open to the public and there is an opportunity for public comment at each meeting.

What are the board’s goals during the transitional year?

There are three primary goals that the board must accomplish during the transition. Those are:

  • Create one operating budget for the unified school district for the 2018/2019 school year and bring it to the voters for their consideration on Town Meeting Day 2018.

  • Negotiate one contract for each of the bargaining units (unions) in Northfield and Williamstown.

  • Hire a superintendent

The board also plans to take up several topics for potential action during this transitional year. A sampling of those are:

  • Adopt necessary policies

  • Curriculum alignment

  • Consider ways that students in each town can access programs in the other

  • Determine ways to have community and student voices represented in decision making

What is the board working on currently?

At the most recent meeting, October 19th, the board looked at the first draft of their operating norms, discussed a code of ethics, worked with consultant, Peter Clark, to begin developing  a new mission and vision and discussed the plan for budget development with Transition Superintendent Susette Bollard and Business Manager Chris Lacarno. Budget work will occupy much of our time during the next few months.

What is the name of the new school district?

For now, the new district is named the Central Vermont Unified Union School District. This was the name assigned by the Act 46 Study Committee, but it is the intent of the new board to revisit this during the year through an inclusive process involving residents of both towns and members of both school communities.  Suggestions for a new name are welcome.

This is an exciting time in the history of public education in our two communities. There will be challenges ahead, but we hope residents in both communities will stay engaged as our work evolves, decisions are made, efficiencies discovered and learning opportunities for all students are enhanced.

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