Board discusses school, town meeting relations

Staff Reporter

After some discussion, the school board approved the same Champlain Valley School District calendar for next year that has been used for the past 15 years.

At the school board meeting on April 16, Superintendent Elaine Pinckney said that they discussed three different scheduling options concerning Town Meeting Day, one of which would have been to not have school on that day.

That day has become a concern for the school system because in Charlotte, Town Meeting Day and voting by Australian ballot takes place in Charlotte Central School’s multi-purpose room. This year, there were a “handful” of people who ignored school staff member’s requests not to walk around the building, said Jeanne Jensen, CVSD chief operations officer.

The front doors at Charlotte Central School are kept locked. Students and approved visitors are buzzed into the building during school hours.

Some of the voters entered the building while students were entering or leaving and insisted on walking through the school halls to the meeting and voting, instead of walking around the school to the multi-purpose room on the east side of the building. The room is accessible doors on that side and there is a parking lot on that end of the building.

Jensen said that school security is in “a different climate” now than in the past. There is increased concern for next year because Town Meeting Day on March 3, 2020 is also the Vermont Presidential Primary election and the school board is anticipating large voter turnout.

Jensen contacted the towns of Charlotte and Willison, because voting in Williston sometimes happens in Williston Central School and sometimes across the street at the Armory. The town of Williston had asked to have voting in the school next year, but the school system told them that they would need to vote across the street.

“In Williston there’s no way to contain people coming in to the school from kids, so they’re disappointed but they understand the security issues,” Jensen said,

The multi-purpose room at Charlotte Central School is the only municipal building in town. The school system and the town are working on ways to increase security and help with parking on Town Meeting Day.

Jensen told the school board that it’s “not totally nailed down” but discussions have gotten far enough that she is thinks it will be worked out.

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