Andover board wrestles with Act 46, addresses relationship with Chester institutions

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2016 Telegraph Publishing, LLC

Joe Fromberger explains Act 46 and the options proposed by the TRSU study committee. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

Joe Fromberger explains Act 46 and the options proposed by the TRSU study committee. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

Ahead of a public information session on the Act 46 school consolidation law, the Andover Select Board on Monday got an update on the progress of efforts to “study the advisability of forming a union school district” from school board member Joe Fromberger.

Pointing to a 20 percent decline in pupils over the past 20 years and the low student-to- teacher ratio in Vermont,  Fromberger explained that the purpose behind the law was to create larger districts to realize savings in education spending and give more educational options. According to Fromberger, the wording of the law “encourages” consolidation, and there are incentives for taking action. But, he added, if the schools do not move forward by 2019, there are penalties and the Agency of Education has the authority to mandate mergers.

Andover resident Susan Leader asked if the newly elected governor, Phil Scott, might give the schools another year to work on this. “I don’t know what the governor will do, but all the incentives and penalties are on a timeline,” said Fromberger.

The law has preferred models and alternative models but, Fromberger noted, the Two Rivers Supervisory Union is like no other in the state – with two “union” high schools spread out from Plymouth and Mt. Holly all the way to Chester and it doesn’t fit well into those models. The Act 46 study committee has come up with several options and he encouraged Andover Select Board members to come to the meeting on Tuesday Nov. 29 to hear about the options, ask questions and make comments.

You can read the article about that meeting here.

Whiting board chair, Kathy Pellett outlines the library's funding request

Whiting board chair, Kathy Pellett outlines the library’s funding request.

In other action, Road Foreman Kevin Baker told the board that there were no applications to consider for the part-time snow plowing. “I don’t know what we want to do,” said Baker. “Everybody’s looking for a full-time job.”

Baker reminded the board that he would be retiring on Oct. 1, 2017 and that they would need a full-time person then. The board decided to post a full-time position as soon as possible and see if the town could find someone to fill in for storms until a hire can be made.

Whiting Library board chair Kathy Pellett and treasurer Mariette Bock came before the board to say that the three-year agreement is up, under which Andover contributes to the operation of the library for the use of Andover residents. Pellett told the board that three years ago 85 Andover residents used the library for a per person cost of $25.88 or $2,200. This year that number has grown to 125 Andover patrons and the library is asking the board to budget $24 per person or $3,000.

Pellett said that in the past three years, the Whiting has increased the number of programs it offers, expanded its hours and is considering another half day of open time, expanded children’s offerings and added computers and database information. “Did you know we have a telescope — a really good telescope — you can borrow?” asked Pellett, “I can’t think of another library that has a lending telescope.”

Board chair Red Johnson said the board would look at the request during its annual budgeting.

Dick Jewett of the Chester Snowmobile Club requests the use of small portions of town roads to connect trails

Dick Jewett of the Chester Snowmobile Club requests the use of small portions of town roads to connect trails

Also under the next budget cycle came the request for a $5,000 increase in the fee charged by the Town of Chester for fire protection. Johnson noted that Chester had not increased the fee for a number of years but recently has been playing catch up. Members said there was not much choice, but asked if the increases could be more gradual. Member Jean Peters said perhaps she would ask for a smaller increase and see what happens.

Dick Jewett of the Chester Snowmobile Club requested the use of portions of Marsh Hill, Marsh Cross and Little Pond roads in Andover as part of its trail network. The board noted that this is the same as last year’s request and approved it without much discussion.

And Town Clerk Jeanette Haight told the board that the town had received a notice that its health insurance premiums would be rising by 9 percent next year.

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