Mullineaux: SVSU can't forget Act 46 education goals

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BENNINGTON >> North Bennington Prudential Committee chairman Ray Mullineaux has implored the other board members of the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union to remember to consider educational opportunities while discussing consolidation under Act 46.

Mullineaux spoke at the SVSU board's meeting on Wednesday, a day after a meeting of the supervisory union's Act 46 exploratory committee that featured almost exclusively discussion of potential board structures and other administrative concerns.

"The whole Act 46 process actually requires us to provide detailed analysis of how we're meeting the goals of the act," said Mullineaux, "and one of those areas is in educational standards and efficiency. I think it would be useful in examining the various proposals, in particular these draft articles of collaboration, to have a sense of what a commitment to that draft, or following that road, would mean on impacts to learning or delivery of services."

"I agree, Ray, that there's some homework that needs to be done," said SVSU board chairman Nelson Brownell.

"We have not had much discussion about the delivery of education in the Act 46 discussions," Mullineaux continued, "We are going to need to have it, because we are going to produce a document, ultimately, that justifies the stance that we take and what we are going to do. And part of that justification is in terms of efficiency and in terms of meeting educational quality standards."

"We realize as part of the application that has to happen," responded SVSU Superintendent Jim Culkeen, "We did do a draft several months ago, as an administrative exercise, of what that would look like, talking about educational standards. As we go online and look and see who's gone before us, and what they've submitted as their application, we've seen the requirements. So, we do have a draft of that, but as you well know, a lot of that got pushed to the side with discussions more about organization."

Culkeen said that the committee's consultant, Steve Sanborn had created a schedule for meetings moving forward, a schedule that included discussions on special education, early childhood education and more. The study committee instead decided to cover the financial side of things first, and then disbanded in late August, before educational topics could be discussed.

The balance between educational outcomes and organizational efficiency is important to the North Bennington board's decision making process. Since the early stages of discussion options under Act 46, the North Bennington board has felt that the best educational opportunities for their students would come from withdrawing from Mount Anthony Union and becoming a pre-K through 12 non-operating district that offers school choice to all its residents.

The next meeting of the exploratory committee will be next Thursday, most likely at the Southwest Vermont Career Development Center's conference room. Culkeen said that the meeting would be officially warned as soon as the availability of the location is confirmed.

The Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union board meets the fourth Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m. in the Mount Anthony Union Middle School library. Full recordings of their meetings are available on Catamount Access Television, and on the station's YouTube page.

Contact Derek Carson at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.


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