News Briefs

Lakes Region

By: Lani Duke

Addison-Rutland Supervisory Union tackles Act 46
Representatives from the towns of Benson, Castleton, Fair Haven, Hubbardton, Orwell, and West Haven will soon begin conferring to develop a satisfactory consolidation agreement in compliance with Act 46. It’s about a year since the six-town group first attempted to hammer out a solution to the Legislature’s demands.
Meeting first in August 2015, the committee offered their respective voters on April 12, 2016, a seemingly well-developed proposal to combine the eight school boards in the supervisory union into a single directorate. All the member towns approved the scenario—except Orwell. A second vote, following the filing of a petition for reconsideration, returned the same result. It was necessary that all towns vote to approve the agreement.
Had the measure passed, the new governance structure would have been scheduled to take effect July 1, 2017. Under the first attempt at merger, Orwell’s residents objected to the loss of control over their local grade school and having only two seats on an 18-member board that would control the entire district, according to Rep. Alyson Eastman, who represented Orwell on the original committee. Because the local board had been fiscally responsible with school spending all along, there was no large tax incentive to merge, either.
Take two is underway. The committee consists of 12 members: four from Fair Haven; two each from Benson, Orwell, and Castleton-Hubbardton school districts; and one each from Hubbardton and West Haven. Six members are new to the committee. The group may assemble and new negotiations ensue as soon as the Castleton-Hubbardton district nominates two additional members, ARSU Superintendent Ron Ryan said Aug. 12.
The new committee seems likely to explore what options it can bring to the bargaining table. At the top of the list is a conventional merger very much like the one initially presented to the voters, but making the inclusion of Orwell “advisable” rather than mandatory.
Regardless, to meet the tax incentive requirements imposed by the legislation, voters must approve the new plan by July 1, 2017.
Fall semester officially begins
The college academic year begins again soon. At Castleton University, orientation for new international students began Aug. 22. Residence halls open Thursday, Aug. 25, with new student orientation on Aug. 26-27. Residence halls open for returning students Aug. 28, with classes beginning Aug. 29.
At Green Mountain College, new students come to campus the following week; new students arrive Sept. 2 for immediate orientation. Upper class students return Sept. 4, with classes beginning Sept. 5.

GMC tiny house Otis makes the Washington Post
POULTNEY—A Washington Post slideshow recently featured the tiny house “Otis,” or Optimal Traveling Independent Space, built by Green Mountain College students in the school’s 2013 design/build program, as part of a book review on “Nanotecture: Tiny Built Things” by Rebecca Roke. The 16-person class worked to design and build a one-person living space that could be towed easily behind a four-cylinder vehicle and provide its own water and electricity. Their 70 sq. ft. project contains a composting toilet, a rainwater collection system and a single 120-watt electricity-generating solar panel, all fitting on a standard 5 by 8 ft. trailer.

Castleton U. teaches preparedness for refugees
CASTLETON—Castleton University’s Center for Schools helps teachers and social workers prepare for the arrival of  Syrian refugees with a professional development class. Titled Education for All: Refugee Relocation in Rutland and Local School Contexts, this is a once-a-week, two-month course covering wartime trauma and needs of refugee youth, English-teaching strategies, available institutional supports, and the historical/cultural background of the Middle East and the Syrian civil war.

Research project to study Lake Champlain resiliency
CASTLETON—Castleton professors Andrew Vermilyea and Rich Clark are working with select students on examining the resiliency of the Lake Champlain basin in extreme weather events. The research, part of a five-year collaborative grant between Castleton and the University of Vermont, is part of the Experimental Program to Stimulate Cognitive Research, a division of the National Science Foundation.

Student team to explore resistance-free antibiotic
CASTLETON—Castleton University is one of 150 participating schools that are seeking a solution to antibiotic resistance. Leading the local team is Natural Science Department faculty member Preston Garcia, as he teaches a Small World Initiative course—the first offered by any school in Vermont—during the new academic year. Castleton students will conduct hands-on research and “potentially discover a novel antibiotic,” Garcia said.

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