BARRE – The minutes will reflect that the final solo meeting of the Barre City School Board was a light lift for members whose only official action was to accept three resignations from a pre-K-8 school district that will soon cease to exist and to enter and exit executive session.
School commissioners recited the Pledge of Allegiance for the last time in the library at Barre City Elementary and Middle School last week, before entertaining their final student presentation and plowing through a skeletal agenda.
But for an unexpected scare – the videographer for CVTV briefly had difficulty breathing – the meeting was largely uneventful.
With little to do, school commissioners quizzed a group of seventh- and eighth-graders responsible for organizing a twice-a-month after school program for middle school students during the latter half of this school year. They were told the student-led program was successful and the hope is to build on the modest grant funding that underwrote the initiative this year and expand it when school resumes in the fall.
By then, the students, and others like them will be pitching their plan to the newly elected board of the Barre Unified Union School District – one that will include three familiar faces and be responsible for pre-K-12 education in Barre and neighboring Barre Town.
Chairwoman Sonya Spaulding and School Commissioners Giuliano Cecchinelli II and Chris Riddell are among Barre’s four directly elected representatives to the new board all were in attendance Monday night. So were School Commissioners Jennifer Chioldi, Sarah Pregent and Andrew McMichael, who have expressed interest in serving the new district on the committee level after the merged district is launched on July 1. The only member missing Monday night was Michael Deering.
In a nod to their collective service, Superintendent John Pandolfo praised board members as both “engaged” and “supportive,” and later singling out Spaulding for her detail-oriented leadership.
Principals Chris Hennessey and Hayden Coon echoed that assessment, capping their first year at the helm of the city’s centralized elementary school by applauding the board responsible for hiring them and for dedicated the library to one of their predecessors – James Taffel – last year.
“It’s been a real honor to work with you,” Hennessey told a board he thanked for making him feel welcome from the start.
Coon expressed a similar sentiment suggesting the community had been well-served by a board that isn’t expected to meet again before mid-December.
Pandolfo said that would be something of a reunion for members of the Barre, Barre Town and Spaulding High School boards each of whom has multiple members on the new unified board.
Assuming audits for all three districts are completed by Dec. 12, Pandolfo said the three board that are in the process of stepping down would meet with the one that is just standing up to receive the audit reports. Adopting the audits will be the last official acts of the Barre, Barre Town and Spaulding boards.
Before going into executive session for a closed-door briefing on the details of a recently settled teachers’ contract and an unrelated staffing issue, board members paused to thank each other.
“It’s been an honor to serve with all of you,” Pregent said, adding: “I’m almost sad.”
Spaulding, the board’s chairwoman and senior member had the last word.
“It’s been a long and wild ride,” she said, thanking board members for their service before adding: “It’s been a lot of fun.”