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Governor seeks students for Board of Education

MONTPELIER —Gov. Jim Douglas is seeking a motivated high school student to fill an upcoming vacancy on the State Board of Education.

The State Board of Education, which supervises and manages the Vermont Department of Education and the public school system, consists of eight adult and two student members appointed by the governor. Student members are appointed to two-year terms.

“I’m looking for young Vermonters who are excited about the opportunity to be a voice for students across the state and who want to identify new and innovative ways to strengthen our education system, including a renewed emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics curricula,” Douglas said.

Douglas said qualified applicants would have a diverse student resume demonstrating motivation and maturity that sets them apart from their peers.

“We’re looking for a student who will bring a wide range of personal experiences to the table and who has demonstrated the ability to have a positive impact in their endeavors,” he added.

Jessica Bullock, appointed by Douglas in 2006, will become the ranking student on the board with full voting responsibility, replacing outgoing member Mathew Francis of Hinesburg.

Interested students can download an application here.

Workers to rally for livable wages

BURLINGTON — A weekend march aims to bring attention to efforts underway to make the Queen City “livable” for all its citizens.

Community members and workers from the Burlington area will meet at H.O. Wheeler School at 10:30 a.m., and the march will begin at 11 a.m.

The march will kick off with a rally to support staff in the Burlington schools. The march will take people down Elmwood Avenue to Church Street and then up Main Street to the Verizon building (on the corner of South Union and Main streets) to rally in support of maintaining good jobs at Verizon and preventing a sale of the company to Fairpoint.

Shortly before noon, the crowd will continue up Main Street to the University of Vermont for a final rally outside the Waterman Building with UVM students and support staff fighting for livable wages on campus and where the Student Labor Action Project (SLAP) staged another “Tent City For Livable Wages.”

The march is part of a larger community effort by the Burlington Livable City Coalition, a group of community organizations and unions dedicated to making the City of Burlington economically “livable” for all citizens. The coalition organized a well-attended community hearing on livable wages and good jobs in February for the Vermont Workers‚ Rights Board and was chaired by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT.

Locally, several groups of publicly employed workers are engaged in contract campaigns or organizing campaigns to move wages up to a livable level.

The first rally will feature paraeducators, food service workers and maintenance workers in the Burlington schools. These workers are represented by the Burlington Education Association (a local of VT-NEA) and AFSCME. Current contracts with wages beginning at $9.52 an hour and $8.40 an hour (respectively) are set to expire on June 30. Food service workers also have no health or dental insurance.

“Paraeducators work with the children in schools who need the most support to succeed in the classroom. Yet our median wage is barely $2 more per hour than the minimum wage,” said Tamara Musgrove, a paraeducator at Barnes Elementary School. “We have tried to work with the school board for over two years to adopt a livable wage for all staff in order to match the guaranteed livable wage level given to all municipal workers in the city since 2001. The disparity in wages is shocking between our schools and municipal jobs.”

Sandra McAuliffe, a food service worker at Taft School for the OnTop and Horizon Programs added, “Most of us work second or third jobs just to make ends meet. We have one of the most innovative food programs in the country in our schools, yet we pay the staff poverty wages. It is time to support livable jobs for all city workers.”

Support staff workers from UVM, part of the recently organized UVM United Staff will speak about efforts to establish a livable wage policy at UVM and how they are organizing a union to establish a real voice for hundreds of staff on campus. UVM student leaders from SLAP, will also speak out on their two year campaign to increase campus wages to livable wages for all staff, responsible contractor policies and establishing union neutrality policy for workers‚ organizing on campus. .

“UVM support staff have worked for nearly two years to increase wages for 200-plus staff members to a livable wage,” said Jennifer Larsen, senior research technician in the UVM Geology Department and UVM alumni. “We continue to face intimidation, anti-union tactics and opposition from the UVM administration. It does not serve the social justice mission of the university to pay people less than a livable wage and allow them to be eligible for public assistance.”

Other workers within the march will include service workers engaged in a grassroots campaign with the Vermont Livable Wage Campaign to increase the state tipped minimum wage from $3.65 to $4.65 an hour. The Vermont Senate passed a bill in March (S. 27) to increase the tipped minimum wage by 10 to 15 cents in January 2008. The bill is currently in the House.

“Livable wage is a matter of human dignity and basic respect for our neighbors, co-workers and fellow Vermonters,” said Emma Mulvaney-Stanak, director of the Vermont Livable Wage Campaign, one of the lead organizers for the event. “Vermont’s cost of living continues to grow every year. As this state becomes less and less affordable for average working people, workers are starting to stand up and demand decent wages. Paying livable wages benefits us all as taxpayers with less demand on public assistance programs, as community members with stronger families and less stress on working families, and as a state dedicated to fairness and justice.”

Posted April 12, 2007

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