WESTMINSTER, Vt. – Westminster was conditionally approved May 19, 2021 by the Vermont State Board of Education to reinstate its local town school district. This followed months of efforts from a petition and subsequent election by citizens to vote to withdraw from the forced merger that created a new union school district with the towns of Athens and Grafton.
While that union school district has functioned amicably, there have been none of the cost savings or efficiencies ascribed as among the purposes of the forced merger. Thankfully, in the process of making the merger work during the past several years, the quality of education provided to the students has not suffered as a result of the merger. Neither has the quality of education been enhanced by the merger. Westminster, Athens, and Grafton all remain part of the Windham Northeast Supervisory Union. Now that Westminster has been conditionally authorized to run its school independently from Athens and Grafton, there are steps to follow as prescribed by the Vermont State Board of Education.
The first of those is to elect a town School Board. That election is scheduled for June 30 to be held at Westminster Town Hall from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Absentee ballots are also available. Per the state’s order, a three-person board is to be elected for staggered terms. That newly elected School Board will then work with the members of the Windham Northeast Union Elementary School District to agree on financial terms for the withdrawal of Westminster from the union school district. That process is not expected to be contentious. It is clear that the remaining loan incurred to build Westminster Center School’s gymnasium is a Westminster debt.
Following development of that financial agreement, a vote of the voters in Athens, Grafton, and Westminster must be held to approve that proposed agreement. That vote is scheduled for Aug. 31 simultaneously in the three towns. It is anticipated that Westminster voters will also be asked to vote on that date to expand the number of members on the town School Board from three to five and to elect those two new board members on that date as well.
Once all these steps have been taken, the State Board of Education will review Westminster’s progress at their meeting Sept. 15. With fulfillment of the requirements, the town School Board will become fully operational July 1, 2022. These upcoming elections are a key and necessary part of the process. So, Westminster voters, please mark both of these important dates, June 30 and Aug. 31, and plan to vote.