Tuesday, November 21, 2017

News analysis: What ‘yes’ and ‘no’ mean in Ludlow-Mt. Holly merger vote


Shawn Cunningham | Nov 15, 2017 | Comments 0

By Shawn Cunningham
©2017 Telegraph Publishing LLC

On Tuesday, Nov. 28, voters in the towns of Ludlow and Mt. Holly will once again go to the polls to decide what course to take in educating their primary and secondary students. But according to merger consultant Dan French, this will be their last chance to control their education destiny.


Merger consultant Dan French walks the meeting through the merger work to date and the articles of agreement at the Oct. 26 information meeting. Photos by Shawn Cunningham
Last year, the two towns – through their Act 46 study committee representatives — rejected the merger that created the Green Mountain Unified School District, which now consists of Chester, Cavendish, Andover and Baltimore.

This spring, Ludlow’s no votes killed a proposed merger with Mill River and now the districts are down to their last chance to do a deal. After Nov. 30, they will be beyond the deadline that triggers state action to impose a merger on Ludlow and Mt. Holly.

What follows is an analysis of what could happen if the proposal passes and if it does not.

If the Yes vote prevails
If both towns vote “yes,” the Mt. Holly and Ludlow town school districts will be merged into a new district along with U-39, which operates Black River High. Beginning on July 1, 2018, the Ludlow-Mt. Holly Unified Union School District would operate the towns’ two elementary schools as well as Black River High School. By June 30, 2020, the high school must be closed and students in grades 7 through 12 will be able to choose the middle or high school they wish to attend. The new district will pay their tuition.

The three school boards would cease to exist and one new board would operate all of the schools in the district. The Nov. 28 ballot also includes candidate for this new board. The candidates are:

For Ludlow

1 one year – Chris Garvey
2 two year – Dan Buckley and Mariel Meringolo
1 three year – Paul Orzechowski
For Mt. Holly

1 one year – Katherine Hollebeek
2 two year – Mary Alberty, Brigid Faenza or Shireen Geimer
1 three year – Sebastian Frank or Kelly Tarbell
The new school board would take over in the 2018-2019 school year. While the board must close Black River High School in two years, it could elect to do it earlier than the June 2020 mandate. This might become necessary if teachers and other staff begin accepting jobs ahead of the closure and a teacher shortage becomes troublesome.


At the Oct. 26 meeting Joann Wilson questions how a new district would ensure the quality of education during a transition to tuitioning students
Choice, tuition and
an independent school

With “choice,” the district would have to pay the actual education cost as tuition for a student attending any Vermont public school. For example, in the 2015-16 school year, Mill River tuition was $15,053 and Green Mountain was $14,279. (For reference, Black River High’s education cost per student was $17,368.)

For a student going to a private or out-of-state school, the district would pay the state’s average net education per pupil cost, which in 2015-16 was $14,598. There are currently 131 secondary school students at Black River High, according to the articles of agreement.

There’s concern that choice could lure second homeowners to try to establish residency to have the district pay a portion of their children’s tuition in private schools elsewhere. According to French, to control costs, the district should have “solid policies and solid procedures in place” and perform residency investigations. These would involve clerical time and some site visits and the added cost to the district has not been estimated.

In the future, district voters could change from “choice” to “designation,” where up to three schools would be chosen and those would be the only schools to which students could be tuitioned. This could become an issue if a group of local residents is successful in establishing a local private school.

The group, calling itself the Black River Independent School Committee, has begun work on a plan to start a private school that could receive tuitioned students. While it is still early in the effort, the group has lined up a number of consultants and experts who could begin work if the merger proposal passes. The group has also begun a crowd funding effort. They see a future in which “designation” would include their school as well as Mill River and Green Mountain.

Open questions remain: Buses


Questions of how tuitioned students will get to school will be addressed by the new board if the merger is approved. File photo
Open questions include how the new board would handle transportation. While it would have to provide buses for its elementary students, whether and how it would get secondary students to a central point to be picked up by the choice school would have to be decided by the new board.

Of course, that supposes that the secondary school decides to send buses. But since it would be a big plus for a school to substantially increase its enrollment, nearby schools would likely provide transportation from Ludlow and Mt. Holly.

As for schools farther afield such as Burr & Burton in Manchester, it’s likely that students choosing those schools would have to make their own transportation arrangements. Some have suggested that economically disadvantaged students would have less choice and therefore less educational opportunity because of that transportation disparity.

And, of course, taxes

The Two Rivers Supervisory Union has calculated that the merger — after the closing of Black River High — would save more than $600,000 per year, which could translate into tax savings of $0.20 per $100 of assessed property value for Ludlow and $0.12 for Mt. Holly. The supervisory union notes that these are estimates only and that actual numbers could vary.

An approved merger would also come with incentives such as temporary tax reductions. These are $0.08 per $100 in the first year, $0.06 in the second, $0.04 in the third and $0.02 in the fourth. The merger would also preserve the small schools funding and the “phantom student” protection that keeps tax rates from spiking if student populations drop more than 3.5 percent from year to year. There is also incentive money to help with the transition.

“Voter approval of the new Green Mountain Unified School District made that district independently eligible for a Transition Facilitation Grant of $150,000 – less money already paid for the consulting services grant,” Donna Russo-Savage, principal assistant to the secretary of education told The Telegraph. “The grant will be shared by the Ludlow-Mt. Holly Unified Union School District if the voters in those communities approve creation of the new unified district.” That means that the new Green Mountain Unified District will receive less than the $150,000 it expected for the transition.

The merger would also give the two elementary schools greater protection from being closed than exists in statute. Under the proposal, closing an elementary school would take the unanimous approval of the board and a vote by the town in which the school is located. In addition to protecting the elementary schools from closing, the proposal requires that the new board expand elementary school choice within the district.

Finally, a town that pays tuition to other schools for its students generally has no representation on the boards of those schools.

If a No vote prevails

An overwhelming no vote by Ludlow residents stopped a merger with Mill River in May setting up the process that led to the Nov. 28 vote
If either town votes “No” on Nov. 28, the districts will remain separate, Black River High School will remain open and the process will continue, but without any participation from voters.

By Dec. 26, the districts would have to submit a report explaining to the state Agency of Education how continuing in the way they operate would satisfy the goals of Act 46, which was intended to increase student’s educational opportunities while finding savings from consolidation. The districts will also have to meet with another district or districts “to discuss ways to promote improvement throughout the region.”

It’s unlikely that the status quo would satisfy the AOE as an acceptable structure know as a “side by side” since that setup calls for two districts governed in different ways. With two elementary schools and one middle/high school, the resulting organization would be the same as that operated by the new Green Mountain Unified School District and therefore unacceptable.

A statewide plan

Between December and June, Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe has to craft a statewide proposal outlining the governance changes to be made in the districts that have not yet merged. By statute she must review proposals from the districts and have “conversations” with those districts. By Nov. 30, 2018, after public hearings and consideration, the State Board of Education will issue a final plan and “publish … its order merging and realigning districts and supervisory unions where necessary.”


While the closing of BRHS has been an emotional issue only about 35 people attended the Oct 26 meeting.
It’s difficult to predict what would happen to the schools of Ludlow and Mt. Holly under such a plan. It’s unlikely that the state would close local elementary schools, according to Act 46 consultants. But the districts could be compelled to merge with another district which would then operate those schools. In any event, the AOE could not break apart the union that operates Black River (although the legislature could) so whichever way a forced merger goes, all of the high school students would follow.

A school district like Green Mountain might be asked to take the Ludlow and Mt. Holly schools as new members in a merger, but it would be up to the voters in that district to approve the addition.

Taxation and representation

A “No” vote would mean the loss of the four years of tax rate incentives that come with an approved merger. In addition, the towns would lose the “phantom student” protection and more than $130,000 in small school grants. While the proposal does not spell out are the tax implications turning down the merger, but without the hold harmless protection for large drops in student population, the stage could be set for a jump in per pupil spending and thus a bump up in taxes.

Ironically, if voters turn down the proposal and the state compels a merger with another school system, one of the benefits would be that the state is also likely to mandate board representation for the towns.

For answers to specific questions, voters can attend the last two information meetings before the vote.

Thursday, Nov. 16 at 6 p.m. in the Ludlow Elementary School Gymnasium at 45 Main St.
Tuesday, Nov. 21 at 6 p.m. in the Mount Holly School Gymnasium at 150 School St.

Friday, October 27, 2017

November Youth Activities at the FML

Story Time
Wednesdays 10:30-11:30am
Best suited for ages 6 & under
Each week features a theme, music, and a craft or activity.

Read with Sailor
November 22, 2017
3:00-4:00pm
School aged children are invited to the library to read a story or two with Sailor the Reading Dog. He’s a great listener! 

Monday Night Movie 
Monday November 27, 2017
5:00-7:00pm
Sony Pictures Animation© Presents “The Emoji Movie” (PG)
 
Books and Cooks
Thursday November 16, 2017
3:00-4:00pm
Grades 2 & up
Holiday Quick Breads
This month we will bake up mini quick breads loaves to distribute to family or community members we wish to say “Thank You” to this holiday season. 

Tween Scene
Friday November 17, 2017
3:00-4:00pm
Grades 5 & Up
We’ll make “Thank You” cards to accompany our mini quick breads and talk about what we would like to do at future meetings.

Crafty Tuesdays
3:00-4:00pm
Grades K & Up
November 7th- Clothes Pin Puppets- I bet you didn’t know that clothes pins can be used to make fun puppets with moveable mouths!  Don’t miss out on making these cool puppets!
14th- Glove Creatures- Is it a glove or your new BFF? We’ll be using stretchy gloves to create one of a kind creatures.
21st- Cork Turkey Place Cards-Make sure no one sits in the wrong seat at Thanksgiving dinner with these cute turkey place holders.
28th- Shrinky Dink Emoji Pins- Trace or draw your favorite emoji on to amazing shrinky dink plastic, add heat, and then turn it into a cool pin to put on your backpack or to give a friend!

STEM Night
Monday November 20, 2017
5:00-6:00pm
Mayflower Challenge
The pilgrims are headed across the sea to settle in the new world. Help them survive their journey by designing them a strong ship that will endure the long trip and stormy seas.

 Dorothy’s List Book Club
Book pick up After November 13th
Book Club Meeting Thursday December 21, 2017
Wish by Barbara O’Connor
“Eleven-year-old Charlie Reese has been making the same secret wish every day since fourth grade. She even has a list of all the ways there are to make the wish, such as cutting off the pointed end of a slice of pie and wishing on it as she takes the last bite.
But when she is sent to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to live with family she barely knows, it seems unlikely that her wish will ever come true. That is, until she meets Wishbone, a skinny stray dog who captures her heart, and Howard, a neighbor boy who proves surprising in lots of ways. Suddenly Charlie is in serious danger of discovering that what she thought she wanted may not be what she needs at all.”(Amazon.com)

Thursday, October 5, 2017

James Bond Returns to Ludlow in "Spectre" on October 14

For Immediate Release

Contact:  info@fola.us



James Bond Returns to Ludlow in "Spectre" on October 14


FOLA's (Friends of Ludlow Auditorium) next movie will be "Spectre", a James Bond feature, on Saturday, October 14 at 7 PM in the Ludlow Town Hall Auditorium.
Spectre (2012) is the twenty-fourth spy film in the James Bond film series produced by Eon Productions for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Columbia Pictures. It is Daniel Craig's fourth performance as James Bond, and the second film in the series directed by Sam Mendes following Skyfall, with a screenplay written by John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Jez Butterworth.
The story sees Bond pitted against the global criminal organisation Spectre and their leader Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Bond attempts to thwart Blofeld's plan to launch a global surveillance network, and discovers Spectre and Blofeld were behind the events of the previous three films. The film marks Spectre and Blofeld's first appearance in an Eon Productions film since 1971's Diamonds Are Forever with Christoph Waltz playing the organisation's leader. Several recurring James Bond characters, including M, Q and Eve Moneypenny return, with the new additions of Léa Seydoux as Dr. Madeleine Swann, Dave Bautista as Mr. Hinx, Andrew Scott as Max Denbigh, and Monica Bellucci as Lucia Sciarra.
Spectre was filmed from December 2014 to July 2015, with locations in Austria, the United Kingdom, Italy, Morocco and Mexico. The action scenes prioritised practical effects and stunts, while still employing computer-generated imagery made by five different companies. Spectre was estimated to have cost around $245 million, making it the most expensive Bond film and one of the most expensive films ever made.
The film was released on 26 October 2015 in the United Kingdom, fifty years after release of Thunderball (1965), thirty years after release of A View to a Kill (1985), and twenty years after release of GoldenEye (1995), on the same night as the world premiere at the Royal Albert Hall in London, followed by a worldwide release which included IMAX screenings. It was released in the United States one week later, on 6 November. Upon its release, Spectre received mostly favourable reviews from critics, with its acting, suspense, action sequences, and the performances of Waltz and Bautista receiving notable acclaim. The theme song "Writing's on the Wall", performed and co-written by the British singer Sam Smith, won an Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Original Song. Spectre grossed over a total of $880 million worldwide, the second largest unadjusted income for the series after Skyfall. A sequel is set for a 2019 date.
The movie is open to everyone and is free; donations are appreciated. Popcorn will be supplied by Berkshire Bank with water provided by FOLA. For information, call (802) 228-7239 or visit the FOLA web site, www.fola.us.

Friday, September 22, 2017

October youth activities at the FML

Story Time
Wednesdays 10:30-11:30am
Best suited for ages 6  & under
Each week features a theme, music, and a craft or activity.

Read with Sailor
October 25, 2017
3:00-4:00pm
School aged children are invited to the library to read a story or two with Sailor the Reading Dog. He’s a great listener! 

Monday Night Movie 
October 30, 2017 5:00-6:45pm
Disney Studios© Presents The Haunted Mansion (PG)
Snacks will be provided

 Books and Cooks
Thursday October 26, 2017
3:00-4:00pm
Grades 2 & Up
Spooky Treats
Join in the fun as we make some ghoulish goodies to be served at this year’s FML Halloween Party. 

Tween Scene
Friday October 20, 2017
Grades 5 & Up
Do you like to volunteer or help out? Then this new group is for you! Each month we’ll take on a new project aimed at helping the community. This month’s focus will be on making decorations and games for FML’s annual Halloween Party.

Crafty Tuesdays
3:00-4:00pm
Grades K & Up
October 3rd- Personalized Pens- Here’s your chance to make a one of a kind writing tool unlike none other!
10th- Perler Beads- Whether it’s your first time or you’re an old pro, making colorful crafts with Perler Beads is always fun!
17th- No crafts this week
24th- Bouncy Black Cats- Make a spooky or cute 3D cat out of construction paper.
31st – Halloween! Decorate a mini-pumpkin- You won’t want to miss your chance to create a zany or creepy  mini pumpkin to take home with you.

STEM Night
Monday October 16, 2017
5:00-6:00pm
The Science of Candy
Do Peeps float? What can you build using candy corn? What candy can you use to blow up a balloon? Find out the answers to these questions and more!

FML’s Annual Halloween Party
Friday October 27, 2017
3:00-4:30pm
Stop by the library to have some ghoulish goodies, play some ghastly games and have a spook-tastic time! Costumes are optional and all ages welcome!

Friday, July 7, 2017

"Elsa and Fred", a Comedy-drama movie, is Featured in Ludlow, July 8

"Elsa and Fred", a Comedy-drama, is Featured in Ludlow, July 8

A movie rarely made available in this part of the country, "Elsa and Fred", will be FOLA's (Friends of Ludlow Auditorium) next film presentation on Saturday, July 8 at 7 PM
 in the Ludlow Town Hall Auditorium.

"Elsa and Fred" is a 2014 American comedy-drama film directed by Michael Radford and starring Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer.

"Elsa and Fred" is the story of two people who at the end of the road, discover that it's never too late to love and make dreams come true. Elsa has lived for the past 60 years dreaming of a moment that Fellini had already envisaged: the scene in 'La Dolce Vita' at the Fontana di Trevi. The same scene without Anita Ekberg in it, but with Elsa instead. Without Marcello Mastroianni but with that love that took so long to arrive. Fred has always been a good man who did everything he was supposed to do. After losing his wife, he feels disturbed and confused and his daughter decides that it would be best if he moves into a smaller apartment where he ends meeting Elsa.

From that moment on, everything changes. Elsa bursts into his life like a whirlwind, determined to teach him that the time he has left to live -- be it more or less -- is precious and that he should enjoy it as he pleases. Fred surrenders to Elsa's frenzy, to her youth, to her boldness, to her beautiful madness. And this is how Fred learns how to live. When he learns about Elsa's terminal illness, he decides to make her dream come true and takes Elsa to Rome to reenact with her the famous scene at the Fontana di Trevi.

The movie is open to everyone and is free; donations are appreciated. Popcorn will be provided by Berkshire Bank and water by FOLA. For information, call (802)228-7239 or visit the FOLA web site at www.fola.us.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Film on Health Care for All

Mary McCallum


Two local groups of activists are co-sponsoring a movie night and discussion on “Healthcare for Everybody” in Chester on Wednesday, June 28 at 6:30 . The event will take place in the Social Hall of the First Universalist Parish, 211 North Street in Chester’s Stone Village.   “Now is the Time” is a feature length film that addresses the need for single payer health insurance in the United States.  
Two Rivers Indivisible is a group of activists from Chester, Cavendish, Andover, Ludlow, Springfield and Bartonsville and surrounding towns that has been working on preventing the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and other critical issues since February.  The Human Rights Café has been meeting in Saxtons River to create a safe and inspiring space to share human rights concerns and information and to plan solutions and actions.  Both groups are concerned about the impact that losing access to Medicaid and health insurance subsidies would have on vulnerable people in Vermont, especially low income, disabled and people with pre-existing conditions.
The film will be followed by a panel discussion featuring three recently retired health care professionals from our community.  With the Senate now working on a replacement for “Obamacare”, this will be a timely event for anyone concerned about how we pay for and access health care in this country.
Childcare will be provided for preschool and school aged children.  Contact Susan at tworivers2017@gmail.com if you require childcare.  There will also be popcorn and other light refreshments to enjoy and good people to meet.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

ROAST BEEF SUPPER June 24, 2017

ROAST BEEF SUPPER
June 24, 2017
Settings 5:00 P.M. till Gone
Odd Fellows Hall, Belmont, VT
Benefit
MT. HOLLY VOLUNTEER
FIRE DEPARTMENT
Roast Beef Supper
Mashed Potatoes, w/gravy, Veg., Rolls, and Desserts
ALL YOU CAN EAT – HOME STYLE
ADULTS $12.00
CHILDREN UNDER 12 YEARS $6.00

More info Call 259-2060

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Education Tax Comparisons

Education Tax Comparisons

FY 2018 Tax Rate Tax
Property Value= $100,000 200,000 300,000
Black River 1.8087 $1808. $3617. $5426.
Mill River 1.6441 1644. 3288. $4932.
SAVINGS $165. $329. $494.
FY 2020
Estimate Tax Rate Tax
Property Value= $100,000 200,000 300,000
Black River 1.9475 $1947. $3,895. $5,843.
Mill River 1.5515 1551. 3,103. 4,655.
SAVINGS $594. $792. $1,188.
Tax Rate data from TRSU and Mill River Supervisory Union

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Mount Holly Library Welcomes Hicks and Goulbourn, UK Musicians!


Amanda Merk

Mount Holly Library Welcomes Hicks and Goulbourn, UK Musicians!

Join us at the library on Sunday May 28 at 4:00PM for a special musical concert by the UK duo Hicks and Goulbourn.
Folk, ragtime, jazz, classical, original material – this is what you should expect from this duo. The red hot fingerpicking of internationally renowned guitar virtuoso Steve Hicks will leave you slack jawed and open mouthed. Combined with the soaring vocals of award winning singer songwriter Lynn Goulbourn, Hicks and Goulbourn, are well loved on the UK folk and acoustic scene. Be prepared for top notch musicianship, wide variety of songs and instrumentals and lots of fun. Learn more about the band here: http://www.hicksandgoulbourn.com
This concert is free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted for the band. 
Email mthollylibrary@gmail.com fr more details.

Amanda S. Merk
Library Director

Mount Holly Town Library will be closed to honor Memorial Da


Amanda Merk

The Mount Holly Town Library will be closed to honor Memorial Day, Monday, May 30. We are open regular hours on Sunday, May 28 and we have a special concert at 4pm! All are welcome!
Attachments area

Merger Perspective



Whatlizard@aol.com

May 24 (3 days ago)

How would one describe a penny?  Would you consider it not worth keeping or would you hold onto it?  A penny does not have much value on its own.  Imagine a classroom was filled with pennies.  Almost all were excelling, except a few.  You focus more on the increasing "value" of your pennies as a whole and completely ignore the ones still "stuck" in the same spot.  While some may not understand where this is going, let me explain. 
 
I am a BRHS Alumni.  I did not excel in Math or English. I barely got by.  I began to hate going to school.  I began to hate feeling inadequate amongst my peers.  I began hating my high school experience and I so desperately wanted out.  I begged my mom to move back to CT where we were originally from.  We were moved here when we were small for a better way of life.  A life away from traffic and over crowding.  My mom talked about how large her class was; how large the school was.  It all sounded perfect.  I was already feeling forgotten here.  The only ones who noticed me, were the bullies!
 
I began inquiring about going to RHS.  I lived in Rutland County.  My mom worked in Rutland County.  Why wouldn't this be the solution for me?  We couldn't afford to send me to a "private school".  I wanted a different way of life.  I wanted to be happy.  I wasn't "learning" the way my peers were learning. No one seemed to notice.  I was that "stuck penny". 
 
My senior year I broke out of the curriculum that plagued me and every morning I had to get on an over crowded bus so that I could make a bus to Springfield Technical Center so I could attend the Culinary Arts program.  There I met a teacher who believed in me.  Worked with me and still encourages me today after 17 years.  I am forever grateful to Rick Kimball for nurturing this "stuck penny".  I would not have my career without him.  I would not have been a participant in the JWU High School Recipe Contest in 2000 and received a scholarship without him.  I would not have succeed.
 
So I have been asking myself this a lot these past few weeks after the news of the potential merger.  Is bigger better?  Or is smaller better?  The fact remains that all "pennies" are worth something.  It has angered me that people seem to be so focused on the majority of students making sure they are given every opportunity to succeed.  But what about me?  Why didn't anyone care?  I wasn't at the top of my class.  I wasn't the jock.  I was a student that was stuck somewhere in the middle.  I am not the result of a high score on a State test or a State Championship.  My success is the result of a teacher who was passionate about what he was doing and that fueled me to learn in a way I was not able to do before.  It was not measured by a test score or a trophy, but an individual achievement.
 
So with that said...If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn - Michael J.Fox.  Comparing one school over the other is like comparing apples to oranges.  If a student doesn't comprehend what is being presented to them, than they aren't going to do well.  Saying that the test scores of students are better at MRUHS is not looking at the bigger picture.  We need to work with our students and not just make them a number on a test that probably wont even help them in the future.  I understand that the financial part of keeping the school open is also part of the issue, but simply saying "close it" and merging is also not the answer.  I hope there is a solution.
 
Katie Schneider, BRHS Alumni 2000

YouTube video playlist from first Mill River Visit


Sebastian Frank

1:01 PM (9 hours ago)

Can you post this to the newsflash?
For those who are interested, here is a link to the YouTube video playlist from first Mill River Visit.
Have a great day! Sebastian Frank

Mount Holly Library Welcomes Hicks and Goulbourn, UK Musicians!

Mount Holly Library Welcomes Hicks and Goulbourn, UK Musicians!

Join us at the library on Sunday May 28 at 4:00PM for a special musical concert by the UK duo Hicks and Goulbourn.
Folk, ragtime, jazz, classical, original material – this is what you should expect from this duo. The red hot fingerpicking of internationally renowned guitar virtuoso Steve Hicks will leave you slack jawed and open mouthed. Combined with the soaring vocals of award winning singer songwriter Lynn Goulbourn, Hicks and Goulbourn, are well loved on the UK folk and acoustic scene. Be prepared for top notch musicianship, wide variety of songs and instrumentals and lots of fun. Learn more about the band here: http://www.hicksandgoulbourn.com
This concert is free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted for the band. 
Email mthollylibrary@gmail.com for more details.

Please post on MH Blog

Amanda Frank

The following fact sheets help provide accurate information on both Black River and Mill River. All sources of information are provided on the individual sheets.

Fact Sheet #1 - Black River & Mill River Athletic Information

Fact Sheet #2 - Ludlow & Mount Holly Tax Projections

Fact Sheet #3 - Transportation Times & Distances

Fact Sheet #4 - Middle School Math & English Proficiency*

Fact Sheet #5 - High School Math & English Proficiency*

*As a teacher, I am well aware of the issues surrounding standardized tests like the SBACs. Despite those issues and my own personal opinion, I've included fact sheets showing SBAC scores because they are--whether we like it or not--one data piece used by our government and school administration to assess schools.
Additionally, people have asked to have the "poverty rate" posted with the Mill River & Black River SBAC scores in order to explain the discrepancy between scores. Living in poverty can significantly impact a student's ability to learn, especially if the poverty is chronic and causes the student to live with toxic stress that alters brain structure & function. However, it is not okay to use poverty as an excuse for low academic achievement. When we write off low academic achievement as a result of high poverty rates, we do those students living in poverty a huge disservice; we're fundamentally saying, "Oh, you're poor, we can't expect any more of you." As educators will tell you, low expectations lead to low results. That's not to say that the answer to low test scores & subpar academic achievement in schools with high poverty rates is simply to increase expectations. Doing that, with nothing else, would likely result in even lower results. Instead, educational institutions need to implement system-wide approaches, from specific instructional strategies to use of common language & lesson structure to brain-based & emotional learning practices, that have been shown to improve educational outcomes for all students, including those living in poverty. Schools need to effectuate systemic change that successfully addresses the challenges of educating students from all social & economic backgrounds.
Yes, the percentage of students eligible for free & reduced lunch (the measure of socioeconomic status most frequently used by schools) differs between the two schools with Black River at approximately 50% and Mill River at 35%. However, poverty is not an acceptable explanation for low academic achievement.
Finally, if Ludlow and Mount Holly do not merge with Mill River, projections by both TRSU and MRUUSD business offices show that our taxes will continue to rise at a substantial rate. Merging is projected to keep our taxes at a much more sustainable level. (Some have claimed the tax projections are trumped up, but have not offered any explanation as to how they know this. It seems strange that TRSU would trump up such high tax rates.) How would increasing taxes help the economically disadvantaged students & families in our communities?

Sincerely,
Amanda Frank