At a recent supervisory union board meeting, board members discussed how they would split about $112,000 in remaining transition funds, a grant from the state to pay expenses related to union consolidation under Act 156. Wilmington representative Kathy Larsen offered a motion to divide the money based on the number of students served in each union district. Whitingham representative Sharon Berry seconded the motion.
Readsboro and Halifax representatives, members of the Southern Valley Unified Union School District, signaled their opposition to the proposed split. But when it came time to vote, board members from Stamford and Searsburg, towns that haven’t merged and wouldn’t receive a portion of the remainder of the grant, abstained from voting on the motion.
When supervisory union board chair Chum Sumner called for a vote on the motion, six Twin Valley Unified Union School District board members voted in favor of the per-pupil-based split, and four Southern Valley board members voted against it.
At an April 3 special meeting, however, Twin Valley board members reconsidered the split. The board approved a motion by Larsen to split the money evenly between the two union school districts. The board also voted to request the supervisory union board rescind or revisit their vote.
At Twin Valley’s regular board meeting on Tuesday, Larsen said she thought her motion at the supervisory union board would have had more discussion. “I was concerned that (the supervisory board discussion) went too quickly,” she said. “At the time I felt like it would be more equitable than a 50-50 split. But some of the discussion at the (special meeting) was that it took a partnership to go through consolidation to meet Act 46 for both towns, and we felt like that partnership ought to be reflected in a 50-50 split.”
Board members said they also planned to encourage the supervisory union board to consider using some of the money for projects that will benefit all districts, such as an upgraded supervisory union website.
Board members also approved the first reading of several Twin Valley school policies, including a new policy governing “student freedom of expression in school-sponsored media.” According to the policy, it is the district’s goal to “ensure students enjoy free speech and free press protections related to school-sponsored media.”
The policy allows the district to limit media that is slanderous, obscene, profane, harassing, bullying or creates a danger. But content not covered under the limitations “will not be restrained solely because it involves political or controversial subject matter, or is critical of the school or its administration.” Student journalists may not be disciplined for acting within the policy.