WSESU School Boards
Board Governance in WSESU
In Vermont, school systems are governed by local school boards that provide oversight and policy guidance for school districts (covering one or more schools) and Supervisory Unions (covering multiple districts). According to the Vermont School Boards Association, the job of school boards is “ … not to run schools, but to see that they are well run.” School boards are public bodies, and so fall under Vermont’s Open Meeting Law. school boards use Robert’s Rules of Order to conduct meetings.
In Windham Southeast Supervisory Union, board governance is divided between the Windham Southeast Supervisory Union Board (consisting of representatives from the other two boards), the Windham Southeast School District Board (consisting of representatives from the towns of Brattleboro, Dummerston, Guilford, and Putney), and the Vernon Town School District Board (representatives from Vernon). The WSESU Board governs district-wide operations, including the WSESU Central Office, Special Education, transportation, and other areas of school work identified in statute or state school board policy. The WSESD Board governs operations for the following schools: Academy School, Oak Grove School, Green Street School, Dummerston School, Guilford Central School, Putney Central School, Brattleboro Area Middle School, Brattleboro Union High School and the Windham Regional Career Center (assisted by the WRCC Regional Advisory Board). The VTSD Board governs operations for Vernon Elementary School. WSESD and VTSD board members are elected in March on Town Meeting Day. Length of board member terms varies (1, 2 or 3-year terms).
Board Meeting Schedules
Most school boards determine and publish the pattern of their regular meetings (e.g., first and third Thursdays) on websites and in town offices on a yearly basis. However, agendas for regular meetings must be posted online and in designated public places at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting. Agendas and other materials for WSESU, WSESD, and VTSD board meetings can be found on their respective board pages on this website, and via social media groups maintained by private individuals. Members of the public are encouraged to attend. Many board meetings are recorded by our local Brattleboro Community Television (BCTV). An archive of board meetings is available on the BCTV website.
Public Comment at Board Meetings
Board meetings are scheduled so that members can do the work of the board in a public setting. However, there are opportunities for public comment. Boards commonly establish a time for “Public comment on non-agenda items” in the agenda. There may be time limits established for each comment. Generally speaking, comments are directed to the board chair. The board may choose to respond to comment but is not required to do so. As well, boards may open discussion on specific agenda items to the public, once board members have had an opportunity to speak.
Vermont’s Open Meeting Law
Public bodies such as school boards are subject to Vermont law regarding how they conduct their meetings. Meeting schedules should be posted. An agenda for each meeting must be posted at least 48 hours in advance for regular meetings. Minutes of meetings must be posted no more than 5 days after meetings are held. In general, all of the business of school boards must be done in public session unless the board enters executive session. Open meeting law identifies specific conditions under which executive sessions can be invoked, and a process for doing so. For more information on Vermont’s Open Meeting Law, go to the Vermont Secretary of State’s OML website.