ETSD school board begins new session amid uncertainty

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By Matthew Preedom
For The Essex Reporter

The Essex Town School District school board collected on Monday evening at Founders Memorial School to begin the new session after passing the town budget and the reserve fund allocation on April 8. The first order of business was restructuring the board after chairperson and perennial institution Brendan Kinney elected to step down from his position. Kim Gleason was elected Chairperson, Dan House, Vice-Chairperson, and Rachel Preston, Clerk of the board. David Clough will retain his position as board member.

There remains an open seat on the school board and town residents are encouraged to apply. The board asks that interested persons send a brief letter of interest and one to three references to Gleason at kgleasonetsd@gmail.com by April 26. The board expects to appoint the new member at their April 28 meeting. The appointee will serve the first year of a three-year term, and run for re-election next spring.

The new Founders Memorial School principle Wendy Cobb was introduced to the board and took questions about her history and her plans for the district. Cobb emphasized that her first goal is to establish relationships with the faculty, staff, students and community to encourage mutual trust and cooperation. Cobb expects to engage the community through a blog this summer.

Much of the board’s time was spent discussing House Bill 883, which proposes to reduce the state’s school districts from 282 to between 45 and 55 by 2017. Board members House and Gleason emphasized that the impact of consolidation is likely to be more tempered in Essex Town because the district is Pre-K through eighth-grade and is already much larger than most school districts, which makes for fewer perceptible inefficiencies. Gleason commended that legislators plan to coordinate resources to improve student outcomes and create opportunity, but she expressed concern over the uncertainties the bill creates. “I don’t want it shoved down our throats by Montpelier,” she said. “I want to know that we will have a voice in this.”