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Oxbow school district postpones Act 46 meeting


Staff Report
Tuesday, February 26, 2019

BRADFORD, Vt. — Members of the newly formed Oxbow Unified Union School District circumvented a state-mandated inaugural meeting on Monday night, motioning to adjourn and reconvene at a later date.

The meeting was one of many warned by the State Department of Education in order to kick-start proceedings for newly merged districts under Act 46, the 2015 law forcing neighboring districts to either merge or be forced to by the state. OUUSD — a merger between Bradford Elementary School, Newbury Elementary School and Oxbow High — is one such involuntary merger, forming amid protest from Newbury Elementary.

NES is one of 31 co-plaintiffs in a lawsuit requesting a preliminary injunction to block merger activity while the Vermont Supreme Court weighs the merits of the forced mergers. Judge Richard Mello, who heard arguments from both the state and plaintiffs on Feb. 15, has yet to issue a ruling.

Attendees at Monday’s meeting, held at Oxbow, proceeded through the agenda’s first two articles, electing a temporary presiding officer and adopting Robert’s Rules of Order, according to draft minutes. Prior to executing Article III, which would have elected a moderator, clerk and treasurer for the district, Paul Sachs made a motion to adjourn the meeting and reconvene on March 25. The motion was seconded by Bud Haas.

When asked why there was no discussion about the matter, moderator Scott Labun said it was a non-debatable article and the motion remained.

Other districts holding organizational meetings in similar situations also have postponed any formal action until the judge rules in the lawsuit. Mello’s ruling also could influence the fate of HB 39, a bill that would delay until July 2020 some of the new districts, including Oxbow Unified Union. The bill must still pass the Senate and be approved by Gov. Phil Scott.