DOVER -- What's the difference between Windham Southwest and Windham Central Supervisory Union?
"It's something we can look into," said Dover School Board Chairman Rich Werner.
The board gave its blessing on Tuesday, July 22, to look into whether it would be advantageous to switch supervisory unions.
Superintendent Steven John will be notified as Dover is part of Windham Central. The board would also have to see if Windham Southwest would entertain the thought.
The idea of switching supervisory unions was brought up in the past. Werner cited the way Title 1 money gets distributed as reason for researching it. He said the two supervisory unions distributed that money differently and it was possible that an additional $35,000 to $40,000 could be given to Dover if the swap was made.
That extra money could make a difference. Werner thought of how it could be used for funding the summer or after-school programs.
According to the Agency of Education, through Title 1, "the federal government disburses money to school districts based on the number of low-income children, ages 5-17, in each district as determined by census data. Each district uses its Title 1 money to supplement and improve regular education programs in order to help students meet state standards."
Board member Laura Sibilia said the amount mentioned would be half of what Dover receives through the state's Small Schools Grant and it is also half the cost of tuition, which is what the town pays for sending students to area high schools.
"We'd be one of the bigger schools in their supervisory union," said Werner. "We may have to pay as high as $15,000 more. It would depend what they need if they took us on. But we do have a really good relationship with Central. They do allow us to do a lot of stuff they don't have to allow us to do."
The swap could mean 2 cents on the tax rate, he added.
Board members mentioned being satisfied with Windham Central's handling of special education and showed concern about whether changing supervisory unions could affect that programming.
"We do well with those people," said Werner, noting it was his understanding Windham Southwest had "pretty high expenditures on special education."
After last legislative session, where talks of cutting the Small Schools Grant and promoting more consolidation had worried board members, they felt it was appropriate to gather information. Principal Bill Anton agreed and said it was worthwhile to look into.
"We'll get the evidence then make a decision," he said.
During the meeting, the board approved an expenditure of up to $12,000 for purchasing equipment in an effort to complete the vision for the new playground. The playground previously had gone over budget by $2,100. The approved expenditure will also cover that.
The extra funding will be used for buying some items that include a zip line, a tire swing and chin-up bars. That equipment will go out to bid to get competitive pricing.
"Speaking as a representative of the families and kids, I think they' be highly appreciative of closing the deal prior to school opening," said Anton.
Next month, the board will open bids regarding a solar project where panels will potentially be housed on an piece of the school's property that is currently unused.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.