Rivendell delays annual school meeting, elections and budget vote

By CHRISTINA DOLAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 03-12-2024 7:30 PM

ORFORD — The Rivendell School Board met Monday to delay the date of the district’s annual meeting, which had been improperly warned.

Originally scheduled for March 23, the meeting will now take place on April 13 at 10 a.m. at Rivendell Academy in Orford. 

“The issue is that we did not get paper copies of the warrant posted at the town offices, post offices, and school in time” to meet district requirements for 20 days’ notice, an announcement issued Monday night by District Clerk Monica Austin said. 

“We were off by two days,” School Board Chairwoman Kathy Hooke said  by email Monday. 

The Rivendell Interstate School District serves Orford, Fairlee, West Fairlee and Vershire. Any costs incurred by the district for rescheduling may be reimbursed by the State of Vermont un der H.850, a recent law that allows districts to delay their budget meetings in response to school funding challenges this year, Hooke said. 

The filing period for petitioned articles, officers and board members has been reopened and will close on March 19 at 5 p.m., Austin’s notice said. Candidates who have already filed do not need to file again. 

“The new date of April 13 allows enough time to not only properly warn the meeting but also avoids conflict with Vershire's Town Meeting which is scheduled for April 7, with an information meeting on the 6th,” Hooke said.

The board now has until March 22 to sign and post the new warning, which has not yet been finalized.

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Rivendell’s proposed operating budget is $15.7 million, which is up $1 million from last year. Separate articles ask for $50,000 for the Repairs and Maintenance Contingency Reserve, $60,000 to replace the elevator at the Academy, $40,000 for ongoing safety and security measures district-wide, and $20,000 for the Technology Contingency Reserve for firewall replacement and upgrades to the Academy’s paging system.

This year’s budget discussions have been contentious as the board grappled with cost increases and uncertainty about the property tax impacts of its spending decisions. As a means to control costs, the district has established a three-year school consolidation plan that will lead to the closure of one of its elementary schools beginning in the 2026-2027 school year. 

School Board members and the moderator, clerk and treasurer positions are chosen by ballot voting. All other articles are voted from the floor.

Christina Dolan can be reached at cdolan@vnews.com or 603-727-3208.