BARRE — Spaulding High School isn’t under new management just yet, but the board that has been responsible for overseeing its operation since voters in Barre and Barre Town created the union high school district in 1987 is ready to pass the torch in the face of a state-ordered merger.

During a sometimes melancholy meeting held in a throwback setting Thursday night, the last in a long line of Spaulding school directors said they will miss working with each other.

The meeting opened with an acknowledgment there wouldn’t be another one like it and ended — at least the public portion — with kind words, cookies and a reminder from Superintendent John Pandolfo that members should take their granite nameplates with them.

Spaulding High School isn’t going anywhere. It existed long before the voter-approved merger in 1987 and will continue to exist long after the two-town, three-district merger that was ordered under Act 46 goes into effect July 1. There just won’t be a “Spaulding board” — a fact Chairman Paul Malone noted at the start.

“This is the last time I’m going to be swinging this gavel for a Spaulding board meeting,” mused Malone, who — like the high school — isn’t going anywhere.

While Thursday night marked the swan song for Spaulding’s seven-member board, Malone and two of its members — Tim Boltin and Guy Isabelle — are already serving on the recently elected board of the Barre Unified Union School District.

That nine-member board will soon be responsible for overseeing the operation of pre-K-8 elementary schools in Barre and Barre Town, as well as Spaulding High School and the Spaulding-based Central Vermont Career Center.

Malone, who was recently elected chairman of the new 10-member board, will still need his gavel, but not for a high school board that didn’t exist before 1987 and won’t have much to do after July 1.

Pandolfo acknowledged as much when suggesting the board could scratch “future agenda items” from the topics it was scheduled to discuss Thursday night and was considerably more direct a little later on.

“This is the last official meeting of this board,” he said.

Pandolfo delivered a similar message to a short-handed school board in Barre Town on Wednesday night and will do the same when city school commissioners huddle for a final time at Barre City Elementary and Middle School on Monday.

Though it is possible some unexpected issue rooted in the soon-to-end fiscal year could surface, Pandolfo said the chances of that are “extremely slim.” The three boards, he said, will likely need meet one more time — probably in December or January — to perform the ministerial task of accepting yet-to-be-conducted audits.

Pandolfo said their work is now done, but, from his perspective, was deeply appreciated.

“I would certainly like to thank this entire board for you support,” he said, crediting members for “leading by example” in the run-up to what he conceded is “a huge transition.”

“You definitely care about this community and this school,” he said.

Malone expressed a similar sentiment praising a board that includes two members – Boltin and Isabelle – he will continue to work with and four others – Joe Blakely, Anthony Folland, David Lacroix and Ed Rousse — whose contributions didn’t go unnoticed.

“I can’t think of a more robust and engaged board,” he said. “No one can ask for a better board than the board I have here.”

Isabelle echoed that assessment, while praising Malone for his steady leadership. Boltin — a baker — brought cookies and members who are stepping away said the soon-to-be-merged pre-K-12 district is in good hands.

Rousse, who was elected to represent Barre on an earlier version of the board as part of a voluntary merger that failed, said said he was “encouraged” by its composition and confident it would serve the needs of students and taxpayers in both Barres.

“We’re a tight community,” he said.

Lacroix cited progress made under Pandolfo and his administrative team in expressing optimism about the looming merger.

Malone agreed, citing Pandolfo’s recent selection as Vermont’s “Superintendent of the Year.”

“This institution is in great hands going forward,” he said of Spaulding.

It won’t be the first time that Spaulding will be governed by a board responsible for overseeing public education from elementary through high school.

Prior to the 1987 merger, a nine-member school board in Barre oversaw the operation of the city’s neighborhoods schools — including Spaulding Graded Middle School — and the high school. In the year’s leading up to the merger, that board met in the same room where the Spaulding board met for the first and, ironically, last time.

In the early years of the union high school district Room 10 at Spaulding was the designated meeting room for the high school board. That changed following the completion of a library addition that was approved by voters in 1991. Since that time the Spaulding board has met in the library. However, Thursday’s meeting was moved across the hall to room 10 because work on a library renovation project has begun. That project, board members were told represents the most significant facilities upgrade that will be made over the summer.

david.delcore @timesargus.com

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