School Board Chair Sells But Stays
by Irene Wrenner
September 26, 2021
The Chair of the Essex Westford School District Board, Kim Gleason, has sold her 2924 sq. ft. home on Sydney Drive and appears to have moved into her 5310 sq. ft. home on Grand Isle.
Their lakefront land was purchased 13 years ago as a “second summer property”, according to Gleason. Town of Grand Isle records show that a large year-round home was built in the intervening years, and completed in 2015.
When asked about the recent sale, Gleason responded, “Essex is our ‘homestead’. It is my intent to downsize in Essex.”
State law requires that elected officials live in the district they serve. Gleason claims the law also allows for her to remain in her seat so long as she intends to reside here in the future. She cited the tight real estate market for her inability to find another home in Essex in a timely manner.
Two Essex Town residents spoke to this issue during Comments from the Public at the September 21st EWSD Board Meeting. The video of that meeting is here and the time points are noted below.
Lynn Smith said, “Ms. Gleason needs to resign the board. She is no longer an Essex resident and that board seat should be maintained by an Essex resident.” (1:59:20)
Brad Kennison asked the board chair point blank, “Will you step down?” (1:33:58)
Gleason didn’t answer him at that time but indicated earlier in the meeting (1:00) that she felt justified in remaining in her seat so long as she intended to find a dwelling in Essex. “Should my situation change, I will inform the board.”
Near the meeting’s end, the board addressed Gleason’s change in residency status. One member noted the statute does not define intent nor set a time limit for one’s absence. Board members voted unanimously, with Gleason abstaining, to seek a formal legal opinion from their attorney. (3:25:50)
The Gleason family’s Essex closing date was August 31st, per their Vermont Property Transfer Tax Return. As of the next scheduled school board meeting on October 5th, she will have not resided in the School District she represents for 35 days.
[Update: At the October 19th Board Meeting, Gleason resigned her EWSD seat, effective at the meeting's end.]