On March 29, 2017

Vote “no” for Model 1, Rochester school consolidation

Dear Editor,

It’s going to be sad to not have a high school in Rochester.
To review, closing of the Rochester High School seems inevitable. The proposed Model 1, soon coming up for a vote on Tuesday, April 11, in the communities of Rochester, South Royalton and Bethel, would leave the area with one middle school in Bethel and one high school in South Royalton.
While I thank all of the members of the study committee for their hard work, I don’t believe that the feelings of the Rochester parents and community were heard. The points that were continually brought up by Rochester residents were that we weren’t happy with the long bus rides our students will have to endure and the loss of additional family time for students participating in sports. Study committee meetings always seemed to be held in Bethel or South Royalton. Very few were in Rochester. It just seems from the get go that the deck has been stacked against Rochester. It’s truly sad that we have only been in this new supervisory union for eight months and we are now being asked to make another big decision about our future.
My vote is a big strong “no” for Model 1.
I don’t believe the majority of our school board took steps to provide the necessary information about the options that are available to the community. I know there was a meeting Thursday, March 23, but this information should have been conveyed to the public earlier as it has been known for a while. There are many people, believe it or not, that don’t have computers to get this information, so a mailing, survey and posters should also have been utilized.
Am I angry as a Rochester resident and parent? Yes! Why? you ask; because we are being coerced into sacrificing our community! We will compromise jobs and business if we are reduced to a Pre-k-6 school in Rochester. I would love to see us look into the other options like Randolph or Stockbridge after the April 11 ballot. These yet unexplored options will only be explored if Model 1 is voted down in at least one of the three communities. The Rochester School could have an amazing PreK-8th grade school and we would have the potential for people to move to Rochester with the knowledge that their children would only have to find an outside school for 9-12, but they would have a great start to their education.
When you look at Model 1 we are by far the school that has the longest distance to travel, and over a mountain as well. The other communities would end up with a quick and easy commute.
I’m truly feeling like I’m in a bad dream. I hope I wake up and find that the Rochester community has stubbornly refused to bend to the will of both bureaucrats in Montpelier and the majority school board opinion. I say “no” to Model 1. “No” means you don’t want this plan and want to explore all the other options.

Liz Steventon, Rochester

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