Letter, Opinion

Rochester deserves better

Dear Editor,

In regards to the proposed consolidation Model 1: Given the fact that since the formation of the Rochester Bethel Royalton study committee began to meet on June 13, 2016, they held approximately 13 official committee meetings. Of those meetings, seven were in Royalton, five were in Bethel and one  was in Rochester, held seven months later, after Model 1 had already been approved by said committee on Jan. 26, 2017. To add insult to injury, it was the meeting  that the committee came to Rochester with the SU lawyer to go over our assets and our buildings. With that said, I do not feel that the study committee and the newly formed White River Supervisory Union has reached out to the same degree it has reached out to Bethel and South Royalton, to actively engage our community to come up with a plan that addresses all of our concerns and ideas for the education of our children. As a landowner/parent of two small children, one in preschool and the other in kindergarten, the changes and challenges with this proposed consolidated model is something my family will be dealing with our entire school experience. The lack of engagement that our SU has shown our small town makes me concerned for our voices and needs in the future with this consolidated model if it passes. Our sense of community will shift from our valley to a geographical area that does share the same ties that exist here in Rochester, Granville, Hancock, Stockbridge (ps…Pittsfield, we miss you). Act 46 has truly made towns look at whom their neighbors are! South Royalton and Bethel makes sense to merge the two schools. They are both close and are easily navigated on fairly flat terrain. For the SU to allow Rochester to become a PK-5, is an extreme disservice to the vitality of our valley and its future. We deserve a better plan that works with the current and not against it. We have a vibrant valley with motivated people and if given a chance to tap into that energy, we could create something our valley desperately needs and deserves, a local PK-8. Our newly formed Supervisory Union should be fostering relationships that will truly benefit our communities and our children’s education at a local level. Rochester residents are facing a historic change/challenge and we deserve the opportunity to have a conversation of what we feel will truly benefit our children, community/valley. The fact that the study committee did not come to our town early on in the process, especially at the first mention of closing schools, is where they made their  mistake. The SU has missed an opportunity to talk with us and has decided to talk at us. I ask Rochester residents on April 11 to look into your hearts and ask yourself, “What is the best plan for our children and our community’s vitality”? If you can vote with out hesitation for Model 1, vote yes.  But if you can not, please I urge you to not listen to the fear campaign and vote no. However we wind up voting in April, may we always treasure and nurture our place in the heart of the green mountains!

Megan Payne, Rochester

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