Insufficient notice results in meeting postponement; TRSU budget must wait

© 2018 Telegraph Publishing LLC

A meeting this evening in which the Two Rivers Supervisory Union was slated to bring a revised budget for both the central office and special education program was abruptly postponed just after 2:30 this afternoon.

An email from the supervisory union said, “Please note the above meeting scheduled for tonight has been postponed with a date to be determined. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience.”

According to the SU, the postponement was a result of not posting the agenda on its website at least 24 hours ahead of the meeting as required by Vermont’s Open Meeting Law.

The “All Member” meeting was being held to finalize TRSU’s budget, which had been  rejected by the board and sent back for reworking after the Feb. 1 meeting. At that session, board members said they believed that the SU was showing a favorable budget number by transferring some expenses to the individual school budgets.

Board member Doug McBride from Cavendish also noted that more than half of the SU’s $6.2 million budget was in one single line – Special Education – without any detail or explanation. McBride said that Vermont spends 150 to 300 percent more than other states on special ed with comparable results and he would like to see how the money is spent.

In Vermont, supervisory union budgets are not voted on by the public at large, but by  members of the school boards that make up the union who have volunteered to serve on the SU board.

Transparency issues again

Powden reads from a statement concerning The Telegraph’s complaint. Photo by Shawn Cunningham

This is not the first time TRSU has run afoul of the statutes that govern public meetings. Earlier this year, The Telegraph alleged in a formal complaint that the GMUSD board and executive committee had violated the law by holding closed door meetings in which discussion of budget cuts in overall staffing were held under an exemption for evaluating and disciplining individual staff members.

Superintendent Meg Powden said that there had been “no intentional violation.” Powden said that The Telegraph was correct in saying that the agendas could be more detailed in the descriptions of the issues to be discussed and that the required “public comment” portion of the meeting – which had been omitted in several agendas – needed to appear. Since then, the public comment time in meetings has appeared on agendas, but at the end of the meeting.

After The Telegraph noted a potential violation of statute in an article before the Tuesday’s interviews of candidates for the Green Mountain High School principal position, the agenda was changed so that the vote on the candidates would be held in public session and not behind closed doors as originally intended.

These and other instances in which transparency could be practiced but was not add to an erosion of confidence in the TRSU. At the Feb. 1 meeting, U-39 board chair Bruce Schmidt pointed to a disconnect with the central office. “A lot of us have this distrust,” he said, adding, “we’ve got to find a way to work together because it’s not getting any easier for us.”


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  1. Kirby Donohue says:

    Everyone involved here should be fired. It doesn’t matter, “no intentional violation.” It was violated and abused many other times. It only makes one wonder what else is being violated? Fire them all.