Mill River School Board seeks to fill vacancy | Local News

Mill River School Board seeks to fill vacancy | Local News


The Mill River Unified School Board has a seat to occupy.

Board Chair Bjorn Behrendt, who represents the City of Wallingford on the board, announced at last week’s regular meeting that he would resign to take a position on the school district.

The 11-member board oversees schools in Wallingford, Clarendon, Shrewsbury and Tinmouth. Each city is assigned a certain number of seats on the board: Wallingford and Clarendon have four seats, Shrewsbury has two seats and Tinmouth has one.

Behrendt, who has been on the board since 2016, will join the district as director of technology, innovation and data. He said he resigned immediately to avoid possible conflicts of interest.

Behrendt said he has worked in the field of educational technology for two decades and is excited to start in the new position.

“I graduated from Mill River, I live in the city (of Wallingford), my kids will go there. So this is like a dream job for me,” he said.

Under the current state statute, a unified school district has 30 days to publish and fill a vacancy in consultation with the local selection board. This person will fill the vacancy until an election is held at an annual or special meeting.

At one point, select Vermont school boards could appoint people to school boards in consultation with the school board. This agreement was reversed in 2005 when a new law declared that the last word resided on school boards.

In 2017 following the mergers of Act 46, the law was rewritten to include unified union school districts.

Andrea Hawkins, vice president of the School Board, said she has been working to publicize the vacancy and will post notices online, including the Front Porch Forum.

He said he already knows at least one person who has expressed interest.

Hawkins said open-mindedness and knowledge of the school system are key qualities a candidate seeks.

“Someone who really wants to stand up for students, I think that’s the most important thing,” he said. “(Behrendt) is a difficult role to fill because he was on the board for so long and did a good job.”

Hawkins, who represents Clarendon, joined the board similarly last year when she was appointed to fill a vacancy. He successfully ran for re-election for a full three-year term this March.

He said an appointment like this is an opportunity for someone to serve without long-term commitment.

He warned, however, that there is a learning curve.

“It takes a lot (time) to learn things,” he said. “My first few months cost me a lot.”

Hawkins said he hopes to receive a recommendation from city officials to consider at the June 15 board meeting.

Speaking on Friday, Nelson Tift, chairman of the Wallingford selection board, said he expects the issue to be discussed at the next board meeting on June 6.



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