Significant discussion unfolded around Article 18, which asked voters whether the district should spend $25,000 for the bus to Brattleboro. Currently, the only option for Brattleboro-bound students is the MOOver. The route takes approximately 90 minutes from pickup in Dover to drop-off in Brattleboro. The new approved route, which will run along Route 30, is estimated to take approximately 40 minutes.
Several residents said they felt that 90 minutes was too long to spend on the bus. Phil Bowen said he thought it was the town’s responsibility to provide transportation, saying that when his kids went to Brattleboro for school, the town provided transportation. “If we can provide them with safe reliable transportation let’s get back to that,” said Bowen. “These kids deserve it, and the parents that love these kids deserve to have that peace of mind.”
Some parents expressed concern that the new bus would offer no late bus option. Carina Hellström said that the late bus option for the MOOver required students to walk to the transportation center in Brattleboro to catch it. Randy Schoonmaker, CEO of Southeast Vermont Transit Inc., said that wasn’t true.
“Based on input from Dover parents, last fall we started a late run that goes directly to Brattleboro High school at 5:50 pm,” said Schoonmaker. “It goes from there to the transportation center in Brattleboro.”
Hellström said she had no idea about that bus, and has been driving to Brattleboro daily. School board member Jolene Mahon later noted that she also didn’t realize the 5:50 pm bus existed and had been driving to Brattleboro for evening pickups daily. “You may want to get the word out on that some other way,” said Mahon.
Throughout discussion of the new bus, it seemed to be an either/or question — either the school would have a dedicated bus, or it would continue to support the MOOver with the $4,000 per year that allows the MOOver to pick students up in Dover. But ultimately, both the new bus and the town’s support of the MOOver, which was questioned in Article 19, passed.
In discussion of Article 20, the board asked for a “friendly amendment” to allow for $40,000 to extend the school’s pre-K program to full day rather than the $30,000 that was warned. The amendment was approved and the article was met with support.
Scott Salway, who had his toddler with him, said he supported the article. “Any money we put into childhood and early education, we are going to reap the dividends,” said Salway. “Not only that, but if we’re thinking about attracting younger people here, having the full day is going to make the area all the more attractive. Our school system is awesome and ($40,000) is a drop in the bucket.”
Mike Giorgio, who said he also has a young child, echoed Salway’s sentiments. “(My wife and I) live here because we love this place, but a lot of people can’t move here because they can’t afford day care,” said Giorgio. “If you expect people our age to move here, if you don’t make it attractive for us, we’re going to leave or not come in the first place.”
Under Article 24, the budget, Dianne Guminak asked that the amount be amended to include $4,000 for a kiln. The amendment was approved, bringing the budget to $3,001,663, and the article passed.