DOVER -- When Selectboard Chairman Randy Terk approached the Dover School Board about possibly changing the date and time of Town Meeting, he was met with all-around approval and gratitude.
"Attendance at Town Meeting night is not very good," said Terk. "It's been years, it seems, that people can leave work and attend Town Meeting."
On Oct. 22, the Dover School Board generally agreed with Terk, who acts as the liaison to the school board. A week earlier, the Dover Selectboard had shown similar interest in discussing the possibility of changing the dates.
Traditionally, Town Meeting is held on the first Tuesday of March. It is a day where most Vermont towns hold a meeting to elect local officials, approve a budget and vote on other issues. Usually, the school presents its articles then the town presents its articles.
If Dover decides to change the date, the process could be held on two different days. For example, Terk said the articles presented by the Selectboard could be voted on at a Monday evening meeting and school board articles could be voted on at a Tuesday evening.
He asked the school board members for their thoughts.
"I'm thinking of ways to get more of the public involved," said Terk.
Dover School Board member Laura Sibilia told Terk she appreciated that the Selectboard had thought about encouraging more participation at Town Meeting.
"We as a school board had brought it up and wanted to bring it closer to the end of legislation," said Dover School Board Chairman Rich Werner. "When it was brought up, we got slammed pretty hard."
He told Terk that voters fought against it, stating that it was against the tradition of Town Meeting.
Having it in April would give the school board "a better feeling to see what legislators were doing," Werner said.
"I just wonder, are we going to have more participation? When we had special meetings, if (the issues) were not near and dear, we don't get a lot of people," he added.
Terk mentioned having an informal meeting for public input before Town Meeting to see what voters had to say on the matter. Werner did not think there would be a lot of people attending a meeting like that. Dover School Principal Bill Anton asked if it would be possible to vote on changing the date by Australian ballot.
The proposal for changing the dates would have to be warned in both the school's articles and the town's articles.
Werner mentioned putting a box at the Dover Town Offices to get a feel for how the public would react to the idea. Sibilia brought up posting a poll on the town and school websites.
For now, Terk is going to speak with Dover Town Clerk Andy McLean about the proposal. Werner is going to ask the secretary of state what it would take for the dates to be changed and if an Australian ballot could be used.
"We'll bring it to our boards," said Werner.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or email@example.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.