Four towns OK Green Mountain RED merger; voter turnout low

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2017 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Ed McEneaney casts his ballot at Cavendish Elementary on Tuesday afternoon. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

Although turnout numbers were low, voters in Andover, Baltimore, Cavendish and Chester today, approved an Act 46 merger of the six districts that comprise their school system into the Green Mountain Unified School District.

The new district will operate Chester-Andover Elementary School, Cavendish Town Elementary and Green Mountain High School with approximately 700 students.

The town-by-town vote was:

  • Andover 59 yes,  28 no
  • Baltimore 22 yes, 17 no
  • Cavendish —  104 yes, 73 no and
  • Chester — 244 yes, 44 no.

The total 591 votes cast represents 14.5 percent of the four towns’ voter checklist of 4,072.

The law office of Dakin & Benelli cast their ballot en masse.

While voting was slow, there were rushes. At mid-morning in Chester, the law office of Dakin & Benelli closed and came to Town Hall to vote. Law firm principal Bill Dakin served as a community member of the Two Rivers Supervisory Union ACT 46 Study Committee that worked on the merger.

At the same time as voting on the merger was held, voters also decided on who would serve on the single school board for the new district. The numbers of representatives is reflective of each town’s population.

Joseph Fromberger was elected to represent Andover; while Cavendish will send Doug McBride, Fred Marin and Bruce Pollard to the board table. Chester voters tapped Alison DesLauriers, Marilyn Mahusky, Jeff Hance, Erin Lamson and Deb Brown to the new board, with one position to be filled by a write-in candidate.

Write-ins in Chester will be tallied on Wednesday.

Tom and Jeanie Petraska vote in Andover.

In the only contested race for the new school board, Kathy Muther prevailed over Wayne Wheelock 26 to 14 in Baltimore.

“I’m very pleased with the outcome,” said DesLauriers, who is not only a study committee member but serves on the current Green Mountain High School board. “It’s a great step forward. It complies with Act 46 and now the new board can get to work on the transition.”

The new board will be responsible for creating the first budget for the new district, which will include finding the fiscal savings that can support the enhanced educational opportunities envisioned by the consolidation law.

TRSU Superintendent Meg Powden said Tuesday night she is pleased with the outcome. “The Act 46 Study Committee worked so hard and so long and this is about what’s best for the students. It’s good building block for the future. ”

The new district will become effective on July 1, 2018, with the new board working on the transition in the interim.

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  1. Barry F Fowler says:

    Stuart, while I respect your opinion I don’t agree with it. While I don’t have a “stake in the game” (no kids enrolled in the public education/school system) here in VT, consolidation results in savings. It’s a simple business concept. You don’t need three (3) of the same role for each of the schools when one (1) individual does the job correctly for all three.

    Taxes go up simply because every year goods and services cost more. For example a 5% rate increase recently requested by Green Mountain Power (if approved) passes the additional costs on to the tax payer. The increase in taxes didn’t come from consolidation within school districts.

    Teachers have contracts with wage increases, town employees have cost-of-living adjustments, as do most other good, hard working people here in the state of VT. Taxes go up, that’s not new news.

    School enrollment may decline as we have fewer families who have children in the school system. The cost of raising children is expensive, no matter where. Any parent will tell you that. I agree we need more working opportunities for people here in VT, thus providing more reasons for people to want to move into this great state.

    School district consolidation, in my opinion is a good concept, and I have hopes it provides a cost savings both in the near-term, and long-term future.

  2. Stuart Lindberg says:

    The voters who said YES to this are trading local control, their liberty, and yours for a bowl of cold pea soup. It past performance is an indicator this state forced merger will increase education costs, increase our education property taxes and diminish your voice in how your children are educated. The laws of economics will eventually “fix” the cost problem. Never ending increases in taxation will continue to drive Vermont’s affordability crisis making our state even less attractive to business and young families. Enrollment will continue to decline. The threats of coercive force by the state made by the chairpersons of the existing boards is a serious turnoff to a lot of parents and taxpayers who opposed this merger. One does not win converts by the threat of sword and fire. These board members have alienated longtime stakeholders to no good end.