I like this better

At 02:25 PM 10/12/00 -0400, you wrote:

Wavell, I think this letter needs to be far less confrontational in tone.  If we are asking to meet with other school boards we need to make it sound as though we are interested in hearing their opinions and an exchange. 

I would propose saying something like the following.

"Dear School Board:  we are requesting the opportunity to meet with you at a regularly scheduled school board meeting to discuss three issues that have grown divisive in the Harwood district.  We believe that each of these issues might be sorted out if we are able to sit down with school board members and discuss them frankly.  Would you be willing to put three members of the Moretown School board on your agenda to discuss the Harwood assessment and the statutory methods of changing assessments for transportation as well as regular assessments and the new governance proposal?

We believe these three issues are inextricably linked and we would welcome the opportunity to meet with you."

I do not want to make enemies among our neighboring towns nor put them on their guard before we even get to the meeting.  This is particularly important to me because I work for local officials and need to maintain good working relationships with the selectboards who are essentially my bosses in my working life.

Karen B. Horn
Director, Membership and Legislative Services
Vermont League of Cities and Towns

-----Original Message-----
From: Wavell Cowan [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Wednesday, October 11, 2000 7:21 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Initiative

As per our recent board meeting discussion, I propose the following
letter as the best means to ensure an opportunity to initiate face to
face discussions with our fellow WWSU board members.  Your thoughts on
this matter plus any suggested changes, additions, deletions, etc. are
important.   ..... Wavell

Dear School Board colleague:
     Our school board asks that you welcome 3 of our members to an early
future meeting of your board in order to discuss two issues which we
feel are festering because of a lack of any effective forum for frank
and respectful interchange.  These issues are summarized, from our
perspective, as follows:
     The authority vested in school board members is clearly defined by
law in Vermont Statutes Annotated (V.S.A.) Title 16.  This authority is
specifically limited in certain areas. School board members in a union
high school district, for instance, do not have the authority to change
the method by which the high school budget is assessed to participating
towns unless confirmed by a positive vote of the citizens from each of
the participating towns (V.S.A. 16 706n).
     When the Harwood school board violated this statute in allocating
the 1998 Harwood budget, the Moretown School Board, we believe, quite
properly protested.  This protest was upheld by the Commissioner of
Education after consultation with the legal staffs of the Department of
Education and of the Office of the Attorney General.   By this time two
additional annual budgets had been illegally allocated by the Harwood
board. Upon receiving this ruling, the Harwood board reverted to the
proper allocation procedure for the 2001 Harwood budget, but adopted the
stance that there was no need to rectify the improper allocations of the
previous three years.  A further recent ruling by the Commissioner of
Education simply recommended that this issue be resolved by correcting
the misallocation for only the most recent of the past three years. The
Harwood board have indicated a willingness to proceed in this manner,
and this may perhaps be a desirable solution. However, we maintain the
position that in accordance with the commissioner's earlier ruling, the
Harwood board lacks the authority to make such a decision without a
consenting vote of the citizens of each of the participating towns.  We
believe it is up to the voters of the towns of the WWSU to decide this
issue, not the Harwood board or any other school boards, including the
Moretown board, or for that matter, any select boards.

    A  comparable issue has to do with the allocation of the costs for
transportation by the board of the Washington West Supervisory Union
(WWSU). V.S.A.16 301 provides that all supervisory union expenses will
be allocated in proportion to student enrollment unless agreed otherwise
by participating districts.When the WWSU took over student busing from
the Harwood Union High School in the early 90s it was decided to
continue the practice of allocating costs based on a factor relating to
total mileage rather than student enrollment.  While this was
permissable when Harwood was contracting out the service, it is not
permissable for the WWSU to do so in the absence of a consenting vote of
all districts.  It is not clear that such a vote was ever taken.  It is
certain that such a vote was not applied in respect to the recently
negotiated new transportation contract accepted by the supervisory
union.  We believe it is a dangerous precedent to select any specific
supervisory union service and not ensure that the per student cost for
this service is the same in all participating towns.  If one service is
not so treated, why not others, which if carried to the extreme would
destroy the whole concept and meaning of a supervisory union.  For these
reasons the Moretown board questions both the desirability and legality
of the current proposed allocation of the WWSU transportation costs.

    We look forward to the opportunity for perhaps 3/4 hr. of dialogue
in what we hope will begin a more frequent and productive interaction
between our two boards.

      Kent Holden
      Moretown School Board

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