It was an interesting week for local school districts, with high-level staffing changes coming to Maple Run Unified School District and the Franklin West Supervisory Union.
There was some interesting news from Franklin County towns this week as well. Elected officials in St. Albans Town heard from a petitioner pushing the town and St. Albans City to put retail cannabis on the Town Meeting ballot, and a potential deal between Richford and AmCare for ambulance service appears to have been tabled for the time being.
And at the state level, while all age groups in the state’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan are eligible, the youngest Vermonters haven’t been signing up as quickly as state officials would like.
Here are five big stories The Messenger covered this week:
1. Shakeup at FWSU
Pending approval by the Vermont Agency of Education, a longtime BFA Fairfax principal and teacher may depart to become interim superintendent of the Franklin West Supervisory Union to replace outgoing Superintendent Jim Tager.
“It’s difficult to leave BFA Fairfax, but I wouldn’t be completely leaving the school,” said Principal John Tague. “I would be leaving the building, but not totally leaving their sphere of influence ... I’ve been considering expanded leadership opportunities for a couple of years now, and I think it’s the right thing for the district. It makes sense to have that stability.”
Samantha Gilbert, executive assistant to the superintendent, said Tager was offered a contract renewal, but he chose a new venture after coming to FWSU from Florida last year. His next venture: the superintendency at Bangor Schools in Bangor, Maine, an hour drive from where he and his wife were married in Deer Isle.
In FWSU School Board meeting minutes dated April 26, FWSU Assessment, Curriculum, & Instruction Director Linda Keating said Tague would be an “asset” to the district as interim superintendent, given the many changes to the district in the past few years. Fletcher Elementary School Principal Chris Dodge also commented on Tague’s consistency and value as a person and colleague.
2. Ambulance deal is off
Despite recent setbacks, Richford will not be partnering with AmCare and Butler Medical Transport, according to multiple sources close to the negotiations.
The potential deal was first broached last summer, and according to Clement Rogers, the director of AmCare, a meeting was then held in February between AmCare and the Richford Selectboard.
In an interview with The Messenger on Wednesday, AmCare COO Will Rosenberg says he received a call shortly after the meeting that the selectboard had voted to move ahead with negotiations and wanted a short turnaround on a contract.
He says the offer was for a 10-year guaranteed contract to staff Richford’s ambulance 24/7, as well as interview and hire any current employees that were interested, and bring in additional staff.
3. Town cannabis discussion
A man petitioning for a vote to allow retail cannabis in St. Albans City brought his pitch to the St. Albans Town Selectboard Monday night.
“I really think it’s important for the community to identify who they want to work with here and get ahead of this early such that we’re not trying to cram a whole bunch of work and planning,” said city resident Jack Nichol, who is petitioning voters in both municipalities to put retail cannabis on the ballot next Town Meeting Day.
If small businesses are given licenses to open in the fall of 2022, Nichol said it will effectively be a commercial race that he wants St. Albans Town to be ready for.
4. New assistant superintendent
With the impending retirement of Superintendent Dr. Kevin Dirth and the appointment of Dr. Bill Kimball to fill his shoes, John Muldoon was recently named the new assistant superintendent for the Maple Run Unified School District beginning on July 1.
The school district’s newest member comes all the way from his current post in Shanghai, China.
At the April 21 meeting of the MRUSD Board, the board unanimously approved the appointment of Muldoon as the new assistant superintendent of the district. Muldoon will be earning $125,000 a year in the position, Dirth said.
5. Young Vermonters behind on vaccines
State officials are urging younger eligible Vermonters to sign up for vaccination against COVID-19, as data shows a lag in signups.
As of Tuesday, Vermont ranked first in the nation in doses administered per 100,000 residents, and cases have remained on a positive trajectory, with 88 cases per 100,000 people on average in Vermont as opposed the national average of 101.6 per 100,000. However, while cases are broadly down, cases among Vermonters age 40 and below have increased 23%.