News Briefs
September 8, 2015

News Brief: Lakes Region

Act 46 continues to pose conundrums for schools

RUTLAND COUNTY—Act 46 leaves the officials of the 750-pupil Rutland Southwest Supervisory Union seemingly caught in a dilemma. To change from a supervisory union to a supervisory district with a single board and a single budget, the four towns of Ira, Middletown Springs, Poultney, and Wells need to enroll another 150 pupils to reach the required total of 900. To remain a supervisory union but with only some of its districts merged, requires an 1,100 enrollment.

RSWSU’s second problem is governance: with different governance structures in each of its four member districts, residents in each town have varying levels of choice. Although a future State Board of Education ruling could allow for some exceptions, districts that merge need to adopt the same rules regarding choice and cannot offer schooling in a grade while also paying general tuition for it.

If the RSWSU elects not to change, it must file a report on how it meets the state’s desired outcomes for student achievement, opportunity, and cost savings—but doing so relies on the mercy of the Agency of Education, which is free to disagree with the self-assessment. The unchanged supervisory union also gives up all Act 46 incentives and imperils its small schools grant.

Re-alignment possibilities seem fairly broad in southwestern Vermont. Addison-Rutland, Rutland Central, and Rutland South have all indicated an interest in picking up the entire Poultney component, pre-K through grade 12. Rutland South is also interested in the Middletown Springs pre-K through grade 6 cohort.

Another possibility is that of merging with Battenkill Valley Supervisory Union to create a 1,160-student organization of three districts, one having total choice, one to have secondary school choice, and a third for schools pre-K through grade 12.

Rather than selecting a specific direction in which to take an exploration, the RSWSU voted to hire a consulting firm for $12,000 to explore options, including potential mergers.

High bids for Castleton police station

CASTLETON—All eight bids the Castleton Select Board received to build a new police station were greater than the project budget of $300,400, of which $246,960 was set aside to build a 1,764-square-foot addition to the town’s recently constructed fire station. Money for the project is supposed to come from selling school buses, bearing a price tag of $300,420.

History alive

CASTLETON—Local history came alive for those who took the Castleton Woman’s Club 77th annual Colonial Day house tour August 15. Those who had taken the tour before could delight in three new stops: the exteriors of both the Keezer-Rehlen House, 566 Main Street (behind the town office building) and the 1810 House, 544 Main Street, as well as the interior of the Woodward-Riemersma-Simons House. In all, the self-guided tour led to 22 unique sites, including homes, public buildings, galleries, and historic sites. On display were period clothing, antique tools, and the Blue Cat Quilt, showing scenes from the 1949 book “The Blue Cat of Castleton” by Catherine Coblenz.

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