CHESTER, Vt. – During a special meeting Monday, Dec. 28, the Green Mountain Unified School District Board determined that they would hold their upcoming annual meeting in person at the Green Mountain High School auditorium, adhering to all Covid-19 health and safety protocols including social distancing and mandatory mask usage.
There were two possible options to consider: holding the meeting in person, which is their standard format; or having the voting on the various articles done via Australian ballot. The Vermont Agency of Education has determined that holding the meeting via Zoom was not an option.
During the GMUSD annual meeting, the board votes on articles to determine such housekeeping items as the annual “honorarium” or stipend for board members, the treasurer and the school district clerk, as well as electing members to those positions.
Board member Kate Lamphere was the strongest voice in opposition to an in-person meeting citing concerns for disenfranchising citizens from participating by posing a health risk due to the pandemic.
Other board members, acknowledging that there are typically few citizen participants at the annual meeting, felt that the safety measures that would be put into place, such as structured social distancing, mandatory mask usage, and additional cleaning of the auditorium, would be sufficient to mitigate health risks.
Several board members also agreed with TRSU Superintendent Lauren Fierman who said that the process and the questions being decided would be easier to understand in person and eliminate confusion from reading them on a ballot.
Learning about additional steps that would be required for tabulating the votes, outlined by Chester Town Manager Julie Hance, also helped sway the board’s decision.
The majority of board members voted to hold the meeting in person with Kate Lamphere being the lone “nay” vote.
Their decision on their annual meeting format does not impact voting for the upcoming school budget. The vote on the school budget and the school board directors has been, and will continue to be, voted on by Australian ballot following town meeting. There will also be an informational meeting on the budget, likely via Zoom, prior to the budget vote.
The next GMUSD board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 14 at 6 p.m.