EAST MONTPELIER — When it comes to running for seats on the 10-member board of the Washington Central Unified Union School District, the race is suddenly on: The deadline for filing nominating petitions is literally days away.
On Monday night, voters attending the reconvened organizational meeting of a five-town district under state order to merge by July 1 agreed to elect the district’s first school board on May 21. That means nominating petitions for those hoping to represent Berlin, Calais, East Montpelier, Middlesex or Worcester must be filed with the appropriate town clerk by 5 p.m. Monday.
It’s an admittedly tight timeframe that will require fast action on the part of those interested in running for the board, which will oversee the operation of a new pre-K-12 district comprised of five elementary schools and jointly owned U-32 Middle and High School.
Under the default articles of agreement imposed by the state, each town will have two seats on the new board, though its representatives will be chosen in district-wide elections. Voters in all five towns will have a say in who represents their community, as well as each of its four partners in the merged district.
That could change in the future, but it won’t change before the election on May 21 when voters in all five towns will decide who will serve on the new board.
There are one- and two-year seats in both Berlin and Middlesex; one- and three-year seats in Calais and Worcester; and two- and three-year terms in East Montpelier.
Though the elections will be district-wide, candidates must collect signatures from only registered voters in their communities. The number of signatures needed varies from town to town depending on the size of the checklist.
It ranges from a low of eight signatures in Worcester, where there are only 754 registered voters, to a high of 23 signatures in East Montpelier, where there are 2,243 people registered. In Berlin, you need 20 valid signatures compared to 15 in Middlesex and 14 in Calais.
Nominating petitions are available at town clerks offices, and some are already circulating.