News Briefs

Lakes Region News Briefs

Fair Haven considers F&W purchase, looking at stormwater

FAIR HAVEN— The Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife (VTF&W) intends to buy 281.4 acres of land next to Kehoe Green Mountain Camp, Jane Lazorchak, VTF&W  land acquisition coordinator, told the Fair Haven Select Board July 18. The land acquisition is critical to the camp’s success, she said, noting that the land would be open to the public with access from Scotch Hill Road. The town must approve before VTF&W can ask for the governor’s approval. Lazorchak asked for town approval by the end of September; the board agreed to put giving town support for the acquisition on the agenda for the next meeting. Currently owned by a holding company, the parcel is appraised at $220,000.

Fair Haven is considering applying to the state for a municipal and stormwater mitigation grant; the deadline to apply is Aug. 15. A previous study indicated that the town pumps more than 900,000 gallons of water through the sewer during storm events, much of it directed into the sewer lines by sump pumps.

Castleton tax rate down

CASTLETON—Castleton’s Select Board set a 1.1 percent lower tax rate at its July 24 meeting. Town Manager Mark Shea praised the town’s fiscal health, noting that the town has recently built a new fire station, a new police station, and a new town office, while reducing taxes. He praised the board’s direction and vision. Construction of the new police station was funded by money the town had available, thereby having no effect on the tax rate. The town relied on money in its treasury to build the new town office building, financing a $540,000 difference over three years.

New York state high school cost drop challenges Vermont Act 46 merger plans

What seemed a satisfactory resolution for Mettawee Community School students may have reached a new hurdle in the Act 46 merger process.

Although Pawlet and Rupert have had separate school boards, they closed their separate grade schools to build the community school for K-6 in the 1990s.

Students from Rupert go to Salem, N.Y., for high school; Pawlet high schoolers attend in Granville, N.Y. Testimony given to the Vermont Senate Education Committee early this spring indicated Rupert students were receiving vouchers for $7,700 to attend Salem; Pawlet students, $8,800 for Granville. The Vermont public education average was $14,800.

This arrangement has had some glitches.

The Act 46 merger committee voted 4-3 to merge the two school districts, with the full plan to be opened to the public Aug. 10 at Mettawee Community School. The community can then weigh in on their reactions to the plan, Bennington-Rutland Supervisory Union’s Celeste Keel told the Rutland Herald. It must then be approved by the State Board of Education and the voters in each town, possibly in November. However, Salem has dropped its tuition rate, by $2,295, making it now $3,300 lower than Granville.

The latest merger proposal is for both New York schools to be considered as “designated” regardless of which town a family resides in. For parents who are already sending or plan to send a child to another school, their voucher is effectively reduced to the lower of the two amounts. They already pay the gap between tuition and voucher in an effort to assure their children receive an adequate education, and also cover the cost of transportation to get children to their schools of choice. But the gap has just widened. Most of the alternatives they prefer set tuition around $16,000, Rupert School Board Chairman Eugene Ceglowski said.

New shop opens gateway to growth for Green Mountain College

POULTNEY—The town’s approval of Green Mountain College’s plans for a woodworking shop at 55 Beaman St. may open the way for the school’s Renewable Energy and Ecological Design (REED) program to expand to as many as 125 students, according to college President Robert Allen. Plans call for the shop to be ready for use in January 2018.

The REED program is one of the more popular majors at the school, Allen said, noting that the curriculum is as technical and “STEM-y” as Green Mountain offers. The popularity of this kind of hands-on problem-solving is indicative of a trend away from traditional liberal arts education with its emphasis on English and psychology into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), he elaborated in an article published by the Rutland Herald. He described the new approach as “applied liberal arts.”

Because a number of Green Mountain students have graduated from the REED program to enter architectural curricula, Allen has decided to seek an architecture education partner in hopes of developing a dual-enrollment collaboration modeled on Green Mountain’s agreement with Vermont Law School.

The new work space is triple the size of the current shop on the school’s campus, mushrooming from a low-ceilinged 2,000 square feet to 6,000 square feet with higher ceilings plus offices and classrooms on the second floor.

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