Woodard appointed to fill school board vacancy

ARLINGTON -- The Arlington School Board voted to appoint Jerry Woodard to the board at a special meeting held Monday.

Woodard fills a vacant position last held by board chairman Todd Wilkins, who recently resigned after being denied a request for a waiver that would have allowed him to continue coaching varsity soccer while serving on the board. Wilkins, a detective trooper with the Vermont State Police, continues to serve as soccer coach for the Eagles.

At Monday's meeting held in the Arlington Memorial High School's Marsh Library, Board Chairman Diane Jennings, Vice Chairwoman Maureen Harvey, Clerk Dawn Hoyt and board member George Carpenter voted unanimously to make Woodard the final board member for the 2013-14 school year.

"We're only putting a Band-Aid on it until March comes," Jennings said, noting that Woodard will serve only until March 2014, and at that time if he chooses to run for election, the voters may decide if he should be elected to a regular two- or three-year board term.

Finding someone to fill the board vacancy was no easy task. "We asked that anyone interested come forward, and we did have one interested person," she said. But that person was a substitute teacher and couldn't serve on the board and continue to be employed by the school district according to Vermont law.

"We were in hopes that we'd get some young people with children attending school in the district to apply," Jennings said. But none did.

That's why, when Jennings approached Woodard about the position, "I actually bullied him into it," she said.

Woodard was not present at Monday's special meeting, but, if he's able to take the oath of office before Wednesday's regular school board meeting, it will officially be his first meeting.

Wilkins, who had served on the Arlington School Board since 2008 and has coached soccer for AMHS for a decade, did not receive the waiver this year that would have allowed him to do both, as he had in previous years.

Vermont Secretary of Education Armando Vilaseca visited Arlington in June and told Wilkins to submit the waiver as per usual. Wilkins said Vilaseca at that time assured him he had "never denied" a waiver request.

This year, however the two differed in opinion as to whether Arlington and Sandgate school districts should be included into a larger supervisory union, thereby eliminating the Battenkill Valley Supervisory Union. Wilkins opposed the merger, while Vilaseca said he believes "we have too may school districts in the state" at a June 21 meeting in Arlington.

The state typically receives between six and 12 waiver requests each year. Each request, if granted, is good just for one year.



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