On October 11, 2017

Lakes Region

By Lani Duke

Act 46: Rupert, Pawlet approach the 11th hour

Saying that students with low financial resources would be at a disadvantage compared to their peers from higher-income families, the Vermont State Board of Education rejected the Act 46 merger that would have Rupert and Pawlet sending middle and high school students to two New York schools, Salem and Granville.

Existing school-regulatory laws let Pawlet and Rupert designate schools in Salem and Granville, which have far lower tuition rates than do Vermont schools, thereby keeping the tax rates in those towns artificially low. But the New York schools have fewer course offerings and less extracurricular activities than do neighboring schools in Vermont, parents state.

If the new merged district claims Salem and Granville as their primary high schools, any student who would rather attend a Vermont public school or an independent school would receive tuition of $5,495, the lower tuition between the two designated schools. Families must pay the difference between that and the tuition of the Vermont school of choice.

Currently, about half the upper level students in Rupert and Pawlet choose to attend school in Vermont. Organized into Families for Education in Vermont, about 250 parents wrote their preference that the towns merge but scrap the current tuition arrangement.

These schools are facing a Nov. 30 deadline to get an approved plan in place, to qualify for tax breaks and a voice in how they may merge. And in 2019, the state board will merge districts that are not consolidated or declared geographically isolated.

The state board told the study group to rework the plan and intends to look at it again this month.

Email scam triggers alert

BENSON—An email sent from an account created for a former town clerk alarmed its recipients. Mail seemingly sent from an account created by Jan Ladd when she was in office, appeared to have been intended for the Rutland Regional Planning Commission mailing list members, although the list’s coordinator, Mary Kay Skaza, said the list itself did not receive it, according to the Rutland Herald.

Dave Soulia, chair of the Pittsford Planning Commission, spotted the email. He said the contents were in an old version of Word, so he used an antivirus program on the email and found it empty. He speculated that it might be an older form of spyware. He recommends that anyone who did try to open the attachment should disable his or her internet connection and run antivirus software.

Benson Town Clerk Daphne Bartholomew said other town email accounts and the town computer system do not appear to have been affected. She has set up a new email for the town clerk’s office and planned for a consultant to inspect the Benson computer system.

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