Board member Kathy Larsen said the Red Cross recently inspected Twin Valley Middle/High School and Twin Valley Elementary School for use as emergency shelters. Although Whitingham has been using Twin Valley Middle/High School as its official emergency shelter (since completion of the original building in 1960), Wilmington has been without an official shelter in the emergency response plan since sometime after the former high school building closed.
While Wilmington may not have a town-designated shelter at the moment, David Muse, Red Cross Disaster Program Manager for southern Vermont, says their survey process allows them to plan in the event the organization needs to open a shelter in Wilmington and the location is appropriate for the circumstances. “All disasters represent challenges, and the more facilities we have surveyed, the more prepared we are,” Muse says. “We’ll already have an understanding of the facility’s strengths and weaknesses.”
If a potential emergency shelter doesn’t have, for instance, a generator, the Red Cross can provide one from a local source or the National Guard. If there aren’t enough toilet facilities for the number of people that may need shelter, the Red Cross can plan for portable toilets before they open a shelter, thanks to the survey.
Board members also considered bids for a new school bus. Two firms submitted bids, Dattco bus sales, of New Britain, CT, and Anderson Blue Bird Bus Sales, of East Providence, RI.
Although Dattco provided the low bids on several different financing and ownership options, Blue Bird was just a few dollars more. Business manager Karen Atwood noted that the district owns one Blue Bird bus now, the oldest and most reliable in the fleet. She said transportation coordinator Heather Dix “wouldn’t mind” buying another Blue Bird.
Board members chose a “lease to own” financing option, but, with a difference of about $7 between the two bids, they left the bus choice up to Dix.
In other financial matters, Atwood said Twin Valley appeared to be in good financial shape three days before the end of the fiscal year. “It’s looking like we’ll have a fund balance of around $160,000, although there may be some more June bills that come in.”
Atwood noted, however, that the two town school districts would have to take out tax anticipation loans to obtain cash funds for the beginning of the new fiscal year. “That’s typical, though,” noted TVSB chair Seth Boyd.
Boyd called for discussion at a future meeting about the district’s foreign language program. “I don’t think we’re hitting the mark,” he said. “I would like to see a significant increase in what we offer. It’s nowhere near what it used to be. I don’t feel like we’re doing as much as we can.”
Board members nodded in agreement. “I think we’re seeing the result of cuts we’ve had to make over the last four or five years,” said Doty. “That’s what happens when you cut foreign language or music, it takes a while for the programs to suffer, but once they do it’s hard to bring them back. I think we need to think about our comeback plan, and how do we finance it.”