From this mornings Republican-American Reply

Voters might fill Region 1 seat

School board post could be put on ballot

BY RUTH EPSTEIN

REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

CORNWALL — Voters will have a chance to weigh in on an ordinance that would make the town’s representa­tive to the Region 1 Board of Education elected rather than chosen by the local school board. The selectmen will seek counsel and discuss it at its next meeting on Sept. 17.

A discussion on the propos­al that came from Republican candidate for first selectman Kenneth C. Baird and select­man candidate Heidi Kearns was held at Tuesday’s meet­ing of the Board of Select­men. Selectmen concluded it was an issue that should be put before voters.

Baird said four of the six towns in the region elect their representatives. In Cornwall and Kent the local school board appoints that person. If the position becomes elected, he said, the town would have the choice of who it sends to those meetings.

“It appears that with the budget being turned down, people are not being heard,” said Baird. “The hierarchy has changed. The board is do­ing what the administration wants instead of the adminis­tration reporting to the board. There’s been a change in checks and balances.”

But Selectman Richard Bramley noted the system has worked since Housatonic Valley Regional High School was established in 1939. He said there’s a long history to the way representatives are chosen. “Ultimately I have no problem with going to the town to see if they want to change the method,” he said.

Bramley said his concern lies with the possibility of all board members changing at the same time. Currently all members are either elected or chosen every two years.

“What’s more important is who is elected or chosen, not necessarily the method,” he said. “I’m undecided how I’d vote. I understand the argu­ments on both sides.” Baird said if the person is elected, he or she would get feedback from the townspeople, not just board members.

The current Cornwall rep­resentative is Philip Hart, who also serves on the local school board. Baird said it might be better to have some­one who isn’t on the elemen­tary school board and Bram­ley agreed, saying such an arrangement is too big a job for one person.

Originally Baird and Kearns had talked about cir­culating a petition to get the matter on the agenda of the October annual town meet­ing, but Baird said that wouldn’t be necessary if the selectmen agreed to put it on the agenda.

Members then agreed that legal counsel and other re­search was needed before bringing the question before voters.

They also agreed that elect­ing a Region 1 board repre­sentative would not be on this November’s ballot in the mu­nicipal election.

Kearns said there is obvi­ously a disconnect between the board and the voters now. “We should let the voters de­cide, not just six people.”

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