On October 18, 2017

Lakes region news briefs

By Lani Duke

New regulation keeps second-year students in dorms

CASTLETON—Castleton University’s recent expansion of dorm units in downtown Rutland has added 75 more rooms and 45 more singles to the college’s student housing, according to the Castleton Spartan, even though the castleton.edu website states there are 1,000 on-campus beds available.

In previous years, the college has had 100 percent occupancy, and sometimes as much as 104 percent, Dean of Students Dennis Proulx said.

The number of students entering Castleton this fall as first-year students is down, to about 530, said Jeff Weld, dean of Advancement. That’s far fewer than last year’s 650 new students but it is still the third largest class the school has admitted.

Several factors account for the lower number. One is timing: New York State announced free tuition late in the enrollment season. The number of college-age people is low. And there is a decrease in the percentage of students who plan to attend college.

“We’re one of the most affordable colleges. Our scholarships are up,” Weld commented. A student can attend Community College of Vermont, getting an associate degree and completing the first two years of a traditional curriculum, then transferring to Castleton for the same tuition.

For many students, dorm life provides invaluable educational support, Weld noted. Statistics indicate students who live on campus have statistically better grades and are more likely to complete their degrees.

Slate Valley considers office move, meets marked Special Services increase

FAIR HAVEN—In the transition from Addison-Rutland Supervisory Union to Slate Valley Modified Unified Union School District (SVMUUSD), its school board considered central office relocation during its Oct. 9 meeting. The discussion weighed the possibility of moving the district offices from rented space on Fair Haven’s Main Street to a wing of Fair Haven Union High School. Rent and utilities for the commercial office space cost $50,000. Reconfiguring that commercial space to meet the needs of SVMUUSD would cost about $237,000. Relocating to FHUHS would cost more for renovation (estimated at $293,000) but save $50,000 a year thereafter.

Addison-Rutland’s special services student population grew from 227 as of July 1 to 260 by Oct. 2, a result of 38 special needs students moving into the district, Kristin Benway, Special Services director, said. Some came from neighboring school districts, others from as far away as California and Tennessee, she noted.

The school district has not had to hire additional educators, Benway said. If a student enters the district with an Individual Education Plan that staff cannot fill, the district may have to tuition them to another district that has that capacity.

The district’s next meeting is Oct. 23 at Fair Haven Grade School.

Fall Convocation marks Castleton milestone

CASTLETON—Dave Wolk made his final address as president of Castleton University at Fall Convocation, Aug. 31. His speech emphasized the breadth of the school’s student body with an incoming class that included 102 students from 41 countries, from Argentina to Zimbabwe.

Wolk recognized David Stebbins (‘07) as the 2017 Outstanding Alumni of the Year. He is a policy analyst at the Rand Corporation’s Washington, D.C., headquarters, working on counterterrorism, intelligence policy, and emerging technology issues. Stebbins received a B.A. in social science at Castleton after serving as an infantry combat medic attached to the M1A2 Abrams Armor Division for the Vermont Army National Guard, later earning a master’s in international affairs from Columbia University.

Wolk also presented Gabrielle Tamasi ’12 with the Outstanding Young Alumni Award, and named senior Tegan Waite, a member of the Heal Kenya campus support group, Commuter of the Semester.

“We are and will always remain the small university with the big heart, with high expectations for students and staff, the University that helps students to transform themselves, the university that, with the help of its students, is transforming itself. And the university that has transformed me,” said Wolk.

Committee votes for Pawlet-Rupert school districts merger

The Act 46 committee for Pawlet and Rupert voted 4-3 Oct. 5 to merge the school districts of the two towns without designating any high school, Cherise Madigan wrote in the Oct. 11 Manchester Journal. The vote follows the Vermont State Board of Education’s Sept. 20 rejection of a plan to create a single district that designated grades 7 through 12 to attend school in Granville and Salem, N.Y.

The new school board will have to resolve “the designation versus non-designation issue,” said Susan Hosley, committee chair. Leaving school choice as the default option, the merger study committee returns to the State Board of Education Oct. 18 to seek approval of the plan to merge without designation.

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