ARLINGTON >> The Arlington School board on Jan. 13 officially named Tim Stewart as the principal of Arlington Memorial Middle and High School.
Stewart, the school's former athletics director, had been serving as the interim principal since Christopher Barnes left the school to become the new assistant principal of Mount Anthony Union High School in Bennington at the beginning of the school year. Battenkill Valley Supervisory Union Superintendent Judy Pullinen said that the position had been posted internally, which the policy allows when the superintendent thinks a qualified internal candidate exists.
"He has done a fine job of tackling important school issues," said Pullinen, "He is student-oriented, and has respect for both students and staff. Tim knows the community, and is a a visible principal, who has been building relationships with students, families, and the larger community." The board congratulated Stewart and unanimously approved the appointment.
Pullinen also brought up the House Education Committee's bill that would increase the spending thresholds that were imposed upon school districts by Act 46 by 0.9 percent. In Arlington's case, that would raise their allowable spending increase by $33,000. The school district had already cut their budget down to just below the limit, but Pullinen pointed out that, if passed, the new bill would allow almost half of a position to be added back into the budget, without incurring penalties under last year's education bill. Any amount spent over the threshold is effectively double taxed. Due to the limitations, the board had decided to reduce staffing in the guidance department and greatly reduced the health specialist position. Since last Wednesday's meeting, the Senate Education Committee proposed their own bill to remove the thresholds entirely.
The town's homestead education tax rate is projected to decrease, due to an increase in pupils, and adding $33,000 back into the budget would only raise the tax rate about two-tenths of a cent, said Pullinen. That money could be used to increase educational opportunities for students. She suggested that the board wait until Jan. 27, just before the date when the budget must be finalized, to see if the legislature is able to make any progress. If they do take action, she said, the board could consider utilizing that $33,000.
The board also gave an update on the upcoming elections. Kevin Smith, Nicol Whalen, and Gerald Woodard's seats are all up for re-election. While Whalen and Woodard are gathering signatures to run for their seats, Smith said that he would not be running, leaving his one-year seat up for grabs. "It is a really rewarding experience," said Smith, who said that he was declining to run due to other obligations.