Melinda Young and Nicholas Smith

Melinda Young, left, and Nicholas Smith, right, are vying for the open 1-year seat on the Milton School Board. Young, the incumbent, drives a school bus, and Smith is the vice-chair of the town's development review board. 

The Milton School Board could be shaken up by new faces this election day. 

On March 7, Nicholas Smith will attempt to unseat incumbent Melinda Young, who was appointed to the board earlier this year. Both are running for the open one-year position. 

Smith volunteers with Milton youth sports and is currently vice-chair of the Development Review Board. In an interview with the Independent, he said he’s running because he has nieces and nephews in the district, as well as a five-month-old child who will someday attend the schools. 

“That's been a prompt to me getting a little bit more involved over the last year or two,” Smith said.

Smith is endorsed by Vermont Parents Against Critical Race Theory, a group of Milton residents who claim to inform parents of activities in the Milton Town School District, according to its website.

Young worked for MTSD for 16 years as a behavior interventionist, substitute teacher and in the nursing office. She is currently a bus driver with Mountain Transit and drives the Bus 9 in Milton. 

“I have learned so much in the three months that I have had the privilege of being on the board, and I would like to continue learning and advocating for our students, families and community,” she said in a message to the Independent. 

Smith said he would like to see the board focus more of its attention on increasing proficiency rates in the district. 

The board last reviewed proficiency data in December, when it saw the percentage of Milton students who are reaching the state proficiency benchmark in math, reading and science. That percentage shrunk slightly — with some exceptions — between 2021 and 2022, according to a Dec. 1 presentation by Tammy Boone, data and assessment coordinator. 

Superintendent Amy Rex said academic proficiency is the district’s main focus following attention on student behavior post the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Behavior is always the first piece,” Rex said. “When we were returning from the pandemic, settling students into those routines and getting them ready to be learners again has been our primary responsibility.” 

While Smith acknowledges there is more to school than just academics, he believes budget spending should be centered on what will lift those proficiency rates. 

“A lot of people … are interested in creating this space that is really tailored to making children feel happy all of the time or comfortable all of the time when I think schools should be challenging and go against some of the broader narratives,” Smith said. 

Young, on the other hand, said she is interested in discussing policies that seek to help students feel “safe, welcomed, accepted and included in their educational experience.” 

In the last year, the district drafted a diversity, equity and inclusion policy and has sought community feedback via multiple methods. 

“I will continue to advocate for policies which help our students learn in a safe and welcoming environment,” Young stated. 

An engineer by trade, Smith said he’ll bring an analytical and data-driven mind to the board. 

“Diving into numbers is a big thing for me,” he said. 

Young said her network of local relationships — built through bus driving and volunteering with Milton’s Ski & Ride Club — is what she will uniquely bring to the board. 

“I am not afraid to ask hard questions nor to speak my mind, but I always do so in a respectful manner,” she stated.  “I will always have time to listen to concerned community members.”

Editor's Note: The race between Jeremy Metcalf and Allison Duquette for the 3-year seat on the Milton School Board will be covered by the Independent on Wednesday, March 1. 

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