BENNINGTON >> At its meeting on July 12, the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union's Act 46 study committee will include community members for the first time.
Most of the community spots on the board have been decided, save for the representatives from Woodford and Pownal, for which the SVSU has not yet received any applications. Marie Shutts, Anne Mook, and Donald Campbell will represent Bennington, alongside board members Jackie Prue, Ken Swierad, and George Sleeman. Bruce Lierman will represent North Bennington, with board member Matthew Patterson. Jessica Smith will represent Shaftsbury, alongside board member Jeffrey Leake. Woodford and Pownal are represented by Dick Frantz and Jim O'Connor, respectively.
Mook, a native of Northampton, Massachusetts, has lived in Bennington for over 30 years. She served as one of Bennington's representatives to the Vermont legislature from 2005 until 2014, when she declined to run for re-election. Her seat was taken by Kiah Morris. She currently serves on the board of directors for the J. Warren and Lois McClure Foundation and Catamount Access Television.
Shutts is the operations director at the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce. She previously spent 14 years as the SVSU's personnel director, from July 2000 to February 2014. "Personally, having been employed within the SVSU for 24 years prior to my role at the Chamber," she said in a press release issued by the chamber, "I have a great understanding of how the SVSU has evolved over the years. I've seen the success of many services that have been consolidated. We at the Chamber are concerned about the future of our educational system and being able to keep pace with the employment needs of our local businesses. I sit on boards with business owners who have job vacancies but are unable to fill those vacancies because candidates do not possess the appropriate skills needed. I hope that my participation on the Act 46 committee can help advocate and represent a voice for the business community."
"We feel that by associating ourselves with the Act 46 committee and providing a great resource in Marie, this is one way we can put some skin in the game and help," said Chamber Executive director Matthew Harrington, "Our educational system is one of the key factors in determining whether a business wants to move here or start here. Additionally, our employers continually comment on how having a strong educational system is important for them in hiring the best of the best. The Chamber wants to help to attract the best of the best too; it starts with a strong foundation in education."
Campbell grew up in Bennington and returned to the area in 2002. He is the southwest district manager for the Vermont Land Trust, and is currently a member of the Bennington Select Board, after winning election in 2015. He has also served on the Bennington Planning Commission.
Lierman has been the chairman of North Bennington's ad hoc Act 46 study committee, and has been making regular reports to the North Bennington Prudential Committee. He is a former member of the Prudential Committee, and was very active in supporting making North Bennington a non-operating school district and the formation of the Village School of North Bennington.
Smith is an attorney, with an office North Bennington, who formerly served as one of the directors of Shaftsbury Elementary School's After School program. She is a graduate of Vermont Law School and the University of Maine. Previously, she was the director and staff attorney for the Bennnington County Have Justice Will Travel office, where she provided free legal assistance and representation to hundreds of women and children from the region. She is expected to be officially appointed to the position at a special meeting of the Shaftsbury School Board Thursday night.
— Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.