LYNDON -- There are three candidates for two open school board seats this year on the Lyndon Town School Board.
Running solo for the three-year term is Sherb Lang, who served on the Lyndon Town School Board 25 years ago, at the time the consolidated elementary and middle school for the community was built.
Seeking the two-year seat are two candidates with ties to Lyndon Town School as well: Dave Cobb is the school's former principal; Nancy Blankenship, a former school board member at LTS is an active parent volunteer at the school with the parent-teacher association.
Looking back, Lang recalled some of the arguments 25 years ago for why the town needed to consolidate its many elementary schools into the one large school, and built Lyndon Town School then with voter approval. "One of the discussions we had then was how the [then] current buildings were hampering them from achieving success with the students and we moved ahead and built that new school and the expectation was that we would get a higher success rate, but that hasn't proven to be quite accurate."
Lang said now that he's recently retired, "I can take the time and try to help find out why we're not achieving the higher standards. I know there have been a lot of changes in Montpelier in regards to changes we have to put into the educational process; I'm not blaming the education community here, but something has affected our abilities to get where we are expected to be."
Blankenship said, "I have decided to run for the board because I believe the education of our children is important and our school system needs all the advocates it can get!"
"I think that LTS is a good school that turns out good students. That said, I also believe that LTS can be a better school with forward-thinking oversight and a supportive board," Blankenship said. "I'd like to be part of a board whose priority is getting back to moving the school in a direction that fosters accelerated learners, while providing supports for all students. It is concerning that the current board has accomplished very little in the past year," she said.
"What's being done to insure ALL of our students are getting the best experience we can deliver? It is my understanding that declining enrollments are being faced by schools nationwide. The problem is not limited to LTS," Blankenship continued. "One solution has been for smaller schools to tuition students to other area schools and Lyndon could benefit from acquiring those students, but the future is uncertain," she said.
Cobb said, "I've worked with boards for a long time, and I've obviously been involved in school administration for a long time. Serving on the school board, he said, would be a "good way to marry up some past experience and still continue to serve the community. My whole focus is to be sure that we can focus on what is best for kids and that has always been my main concern and will continue to be...after that, it's how to get it all done."
Cobb was principal at Lyndon Town School from 2003-09. He served for a year as interim principal in Richmond, Vt. after Lyndon and since then has worked as the director of development for the Vermont Principals Association.
"I have an understanding of school administration and seeing how a board member could be effective in bringing about the right kind of administration," said Cobb. "A school board is really a balance between being able to work and develop policy and working with the administration to make sure that the wishes of the community are brought forth and represented."
Cobb said, "The people who are most effective I think have that kind of vision as a board member."
The changing demographics in the area - fewer students - is an issue faced locally and in this part of Vermont, said Cobb. "All over our state I'm seeing schools that are feeling the crunch and having to downsize and make some really difficult decisions and I'd rather have those decisions made by people who have experience with school administration."