News Briefs

Three reasons I’m voting ‘Yes’ for the new school build

Dear Editor,

As a full-time Killington resident, here are three reasons why I’m voting for the new school build.

First, the time is now.

As others have indicated in previous letters, seven years of school boards have been working on this project. Over the course of that time, volunteer school board members, community members, and professional architects and builders have worked together to create the plan, gather feedback, edit, iterate, and share along the way. When I first heard of the plans for a new school build in 2018, I had just returned to the area. I was in the process of shifting from a career in education to a career in childhood development and adversity research and was trying to find ways to reengage with the community that I love. The plans that I saw at that point were impressive, and it made sense to me that it was time for a new school based on the dire state of the current school and the impracticality of renovating.

Since 2018, I personally have bought a house in Killington, continued my career in research, met and married my husband, opened a business in Rutland, and, like everyone else reading this, dealt with a global pandemic and the ongoing aftermath. That is all to say that a lot can happen in seven years! And yes, the cost to build a new school has increased over the last 7 years, as the cost to build and/or renovate almost anything has increased in that time span, but it is still in line with other current and recent school projects across the state. In fact, the cost per square foot ($627/SF) for this building comes in under the average cost per square foot for current and recent school projects across Vermont, the average being $713/SF.

Second, students, and their teachers, are worth it!

I worked in education for eight years in a handful of different public schools in New Hampshire. I’ve had the experience of teaching in newer-built schools and also the challenge of having to get creative teaching in schools that were unable to structurally keep up with 21st Century education demands. What I learned in that time is that educators are fantastic no matter the shell we put them in (case in point: MVSU is ranked in the Top 3 high schools in Vermont academically, but second to worst structurally), but I also learned that if the building supports the best and most up to date education practices and creates an environment of feeling safe and enhancing student and educator well-being, students and teachers will have so much more opportunity to shine. Educators and students in our district shouldn’t be concerned about whether the heat in their classroom will work on any given day or whether the plumbing will hold up. These are unnecessary distractions to the already demanding jobs of being an educator and being a teenage student. Our educators and students deserve better.

Third, the communities in our school district support students. I grew up in Woodstock, went to Woodstock Elementary School and then on to the middle/high school, graduating in 2006. I have memories of community members volunteering during ski Fridays in elementary school; memories of the many, many community members letting us middle and high schoolers wash their cars in exchange for a donation for our sports teams; memories of business owners across the district opening their offices to us to let us learn about what it would be like to have different careers during career days. I could go on, but my point is that my positive experiences in the MVSU school system all trace back to all of the wider communities that make up our district. As a unified school district, we were fortunate as students to have support from not just our “hometown” but from all seven of our communities at those car washes and games and performances and for every step of the way.

This type of community, plain and simple, is why I returned to this area in 2018 to plant my own roots. I want today and tomorrow’s children to have that same steadfast belief that their broader community values them and believes in their future. Voting yes for this new school build is one very clear way to send that message!

Vote “Yes” on Article 7 on March 5.

Logan (Seely) Paluch, Killington

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