Tuesday, January 24, 2017

David Martin

I read the earlier sales piece from LNR.  While I am a great supporter of solar energy with eight panels on my house and 14 in a solar farm, I am concerned that the financial figures presented by LNR are unrealistic.  The computation assumed  8 hours of full sun every day, 365 days a year.  Any Vermonter knows that the sun barely shines in the winter and that even in June we rarely get 8 cloudless hours.  There are also efficiency losses that need to be factored in.

The selling price is excessive.  They are offering the system at $5.00 per watt, while at the Boardman Hill Solar Farm two years ago we paid $2.87 per watt.  At that price we figured the pay back would be 8 to 10 years.  But at $5 per watt the pay back with the current incentives would be at least 15 years.

Maybe LNR don't understand the economics of solar power or perhaps they are intentionally misleading people.  

Solar power can be an excellent investment.  But only if the price is low enough and the installers know what they are doing.

Please forward this message to the folks at LNR.

Alternative Energy Committee

Please JOIN the>Mount Holly, Vermont >”ALTERNATIVE ENERGY Committee”

February 1, 2017

The “Mount Holly Alternative Energy Committee will continue Supporting &Promoting Net Zero Homes through “Alternative Energy” Education

                                                         Our Objectives

Providing the essential Information needed to make prudent decisions about our lifestyles and their effect on our “Living Costs” including the “Planet Earth”.

Working collectively within our communities to promote the “Effective” use of “Alternative Energy Sources” while learning what the “True Costs” are for the use of “Alternative Energy Sources”.

Realizing the benefits of a home with a “NET-ZERO” energy cost.

Participating in, local “Workshops”: That will address, current “Market Conditions”, affecting “ALTERNATIVE ENERGY” sources, and usage.

To get started Please contact LNR Associates @ 802 228-1179 and join our “Community Effort”. There is no cost or obligation to you, and you will be helping Mt. Holly and other communities meet their “Alternative Energy” commitment which will be a future mandated amount, AND>>>

>>>>>>>>>>>>Do so before the current “Incentives” expire.

Please see attached.

Don Richardson
Attachments area

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Keep Standing Up!!!

Keep Standing Up!!! 

       I have been feeling a lot of things since “he who shall not be named” apparently won the nomination to be the 45th President of our United States.  I have been largely scared, frustrated, confused and now, more angry than anything else.  Over the past 2 months or so, what we have heard, watched and read regarding this man has been repulsive, shameful, embarrassing, incredulous and surreal.  The word ‘unprecedented’ has been used quite often in response to what he says or does and seems to translate to,  ‘weird, different, but somehow within the realm of what we are willing to accept’. 
     This is where I take the fork in the road.  Very little of what this man has said or done is acceptable on any level.  None of his cabinet nominations are even close to acceptable and in fact are offensive to those who believe in a free and equal state.  His tweeting responses to people who disagree with him are not acceptable for a human being of good conscience and decency, much less a President of the United States!  His clear tendency to censor those who speak out against him through the implication of retaliation speaks to a dictatorship, absolute monarchy or an oligarchy, but not to a nation that stands on the principles of democracy or even to a man who holds himself to some standard of mature integrity.  His possibly treasonous ‘relationship’ with the Russians (are we kidding here?) and his ‘questionable’ financial dealings speak to the man’s lack of character and poor judgment at best.  His refusal to follow the rules of the office in regards to truly divesting of his business interests tell us he has no real interest in functioning as a Public Servant.   His impulsive, egotistical ‘promises’ to dismantle healthcare, entitlements and women’s rights programs without any demonstrable replacements speak directly to his complete lack of attunement and concern for the needs of a large percentage of our citizenry.  His attitude towards immigrants, historically the backbone of our nation, speaks to his lack of compassion and inability to empathize or even understand the human condition on a global level.  These are just the things that come to mind instantly.
    What more information and evidence do we need?   The biggest mistake we can make now is letting this man step one foot into the White House at all.   Once he is in there, it is all an uphill battle for the American people.  Getting him impeached just leaves us with Mike Pence (at least as bad) and whatever dregs of humanity have already gotten through the front door as his cabinet.  This has gone too far.  There is no more time to wait for someone to take action.
     It is imperative, if this nation is to survive intact, that we put pressure on the Supreme Court to end this charade.  It is within their constitutional power to recognize the illegitimacy of this election and call for a new one.  Ample questions have arisen even without specific evidence to call for a new election.  Are we really going to allow someone into the Oval Office that is even possibly guilty of treason, not to mention the inexcusable character flaws and the behavior and judgment of a defiant teenager?  In more reasonable times, if we were vetting someone for a cabinet position and the question of treason came up even without the evidence to prove it, is it likely they would actually be allowed into the White House?  People are put on the ‘No Fly List’ all the time with less information than we have on our President Elect.  Our policy has been not to take the risk.   What are we doing?!!!  STAND UP NOW!
Please call you Congressmen and Senators Now!! Ask them to Stand Up to this insanity and require the Supreme Court to fulfill their Constitutional obligation!!!

Karin Bar-Zeev
Brevard, NC

Friday, January 13, 2017

Act 46 Study Committee January 11, 2017 6:00 p.m.

Act 46 Study Committee
January 11, 2017
6:00 p.m.
CTES Gymnasium

  1. Roll Call/Call to Order:
Study Committee: Bill Dakin, Joe Fromberger, Alison DesLauriers, Gene Bont, Fred Marin, Kathy Muther, Lauren Baker, George Thomson, Venissa White (A), Dave Venter, Bruce Schmidt, Marilyn Mahusky, Sebastian Frank
Audience/Others: Steve Dale, Meg Powden, Shawn Cunningham, Bob Herbst, Wayne Wheelock, Peter Smith, Patty Rumrill, Jim O’Neil, Pam O’Neil, Shannon Martin, Katherine Fogg, Anne Gardner, Lisa Patch, Bailey Matteson, Cheryl Hammond, Jim Rumrill, Kelly Tarbell, Kristin Veysey, Craig Hutt Vater; Lisa Schmidt, Mariel Meringolo, Chris Adams, Mike Ripley, Mike McNamara, Tim Rumrill, Angel Staley, Brigid Faenza, Vera Conroy, Maryann Gagner, Fern Melvin, Erin McCall, Heather Miele, Ryan Gurdak, Steve DeLisle, John Bannon, Sharon Bixby, Lisa Marks, Karen Trimboli, Jim O’Neil, Ted Crawford, Sue Crawford, Linda Guerrera, Donald Patch, Carol Ballou, Stacie Putnam, Mary Alberty, Chris Miele, Otis Nelson, Paul Orzechowski, Jennifer Shepard, Melissa Perino, Chris Perino, Chris Vatur
Mr. Frank called the meeting to order at 6:10 p.m.  Mr. Frank noted that there is a great deal of ambiguity and confusion about option 2.  At the recent carousel meeting of U39/LES/MHS there was a discussion that was extended to another meeting last night.  He stated that in order to have a no-nonsense discussion with the members of the committee about affordability.  He noted that because the other schools have such a low cost per pupil compared to Ludlow and Mt. Holly, they need to decide what revenue stream would be necessary in order to make it palatable to become a single district.  What are the conditions and timelines that they would be willing to offer Ludlow and Mt. Holly?  He noted that if they are unable to compromise, Ludlow would like to know so they can pursue other options with another district if possible.  He asked if the Chester/Andover/Cavendish group can allow BRHS to exist in any form, and are there compromises that can be made.

He noted that they need to clarify the deadline for a RED versus a conventional merger.  He also explained that they need to discuss the joint contract law.  The committee members introduced themselves.

  1. Approve Agenda:
Mr. Marin moved to approve the agenda.  Ms. DesLauriers seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

  1. Approve Minutes:
Mr. Dakin moved to approve the minutes of the December 14, 2016 meeting.  Ms. DesLauriers seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

  1. Act 46:
  1. Committee Work
Mr. Dale noted that there were a number of unanswered questions from the last meeting.  He read aloud the motion that was approved at the last meeting.  He acknowledged that there are a number of unanswered questions.  He noted that he was tasked with developing a draft proposal and this committee would work on the committee.  Soon after that meeting, and even at the meeting, there was some question about whether BRHS would close as an assumption within option 2.  He explained that they needed to clarify in order to make sure that the committee is on the track that they thought they were voting on.

Mr. Dale urged the committee to keep the broad perspective in mind—is there a structure that will serve the students of the entire region in a sustainable way.  He noted that they don’t want to do this work again in a couple years.  

Mr. Dale invited the public to review the options paperwork available.  Mr. Dale reported that after the last meeting he sent out a summary sheet and a proposed timeline for the process.  Mr. Dale noted that even though four options have been narrowed down to one, they have spread into 5 variations of the one.  

He explained that option 2A assumes the closure of BRHS.  He noted that in the coming weeks, the articles will state that BRHS closes or doesn’t (B, C, D, E).  He explained that if it is put in the articles and the voters approve it, the school is closed, but if it is not put in the articles, the law states that no school in the new district can be closed by the new board in the first four years, unless voted on by the voters in the town of that school.  He noted that a third action from tonight could be that the fallback position of the GMUHS towns moving toward a RED and Ludlow/Mt. Holly moving toward one of the options that they discussed recently.

There was discussion about the “school closure” piece of the law is about the building closing, not necessarily changing the utilization of the building.  The committee discussed options B, C, D & E possibly being decided by this group, but possibly being decided by the new board if that is the route that is taken.  

Mr. Dale noted that option 2 assumes in all instances that Mt. Holly moves to Mill River.  The committee discussed 2B being a unified district with a regional MS running at the current BRHS and regional HS running at the current GMUHS building, and the 3 elementary schools remaining open.  There was discussion about option 2B having additional transportation expenses built into the financial numbers.

Ms. Powden reminded the public of the admin team’s work about developing an SU-wide plan about what was best for the kids in the entire SU programmatically.  She explained the plan that was originally introduced this past summer.  She noted that the financial numbers include the changes in the staffing to cover this change.  She also explained that this model includes the 6th grade at the middle school level.  Mr. Dale noted that it is important that if the group wants to close a school it must be in the articles of agreement, but the other options are basically descriptors of a plan that could be changed by the new board.

Mr. Dale noted that option 2C is that BRHS will continue to operate as a proficiency based center and GMUHS will continue to operate as a traditional high school.  Each building would still house its own middle school.  She explained that this model would essentially be one high school with two campuses. Ms. Powden explained that this plan is derived from discussions that stemmed from last night’s carousel meeting.  She noted that the principal’s recommend this option.  Ms. Martin distributed a packet about the work that is currently being done and could continue to be done at the BRHS building.  They felt this option is the best fit fiscally and programmatically.  She explained that students could access any of the schools in the district and students could access programs available in one building or not the other.  She noted that they are trying to be more responsible with their costs while also expanding opportunities for the students.  She explained that many of the plans can be provided for students in both locations.  She gave an example about lining up courses not by a course list, but by the student’s passion.  She noted that scenario B realized approximately $1 million savings.  There was discussion about how much option C would save.  Ms. Martin suggested that they need to discuss finding the “sweet spot” about what can be financially tolerated.

Ms. White questioned how the enrollment will be decided at one school over another—will there be enough room in each facility for the amount of students that may want to attend that school.  She also questioned the one high school, two campus aspect and if that meant one graduation, one sports team, one band and those are challenges that would need to be addressed.

Ms. Powden explained that scenario D assumes that GMUHS remains as is, but Ludlow schools could be a preK-12 district.  They wouldn’t realize any of the incentives in this option, but the Chester/Andover/Cavendish side would.  She explained that the Ludlow voters at last night’s meeting appear to want to keep the BRHS campus open and this is yet another way.

Mr. Dale noted that option E is the TRSU schools (less Mt. Holly) assuming a cost per student and its impact on the tax rate and then the new board would be tasked with finding a way to meet that target.  He explained that if they go that route, the new board would have to work out a plan that meets the cost requirement, but also uses all the current buildings.  This option allows the new board a bit more flexibility.  

Mr. Dale explained that Mr. Adams took the scenarios, made some assumptions about costs and interpreted the impact on the tax rates.  Mr. Adams noted that there have been about 6-8 other scenarios that have been presented.  He explained the process that he used to make the calculations.  He explained that there are some schools in the $14,500 per equalized pupil while there are other schools at over $17,000 per equalized pupil.  He noted that if they just merged in place, some of the towns would effectively be subsidizing other towns.  He explained that when discussions first began about Mt. Holly leaving under option 2, it was noted that U39 would need to be dissolved, which he understood as BRHS closing.  If that happened, GMUHS would be the place where secondary education would happen in the district.  He added in the extra cost for the transportation of the Ludlow students to the GMUHS building.  He also explained that he used estimates about what costs would remain even if the building was not in operation.  He noted that option 2A is the lowest cost financially, but does require the closure of BRHS.

Mr. Adams explained that in option 2B, there are assumptions made about additional transportation costs.  He also explained that without the Mt. Holly cohort being in the district, the class size would be smaller, but in order to meet their needs they would still need the same fte for core teachers.  So they would still have the same costs, but fewer students to “divide into it”.

Mr. Adams explained option 2C’s financial with one MS/HS with two campuses.  He explained that in attempting to develop the financial numbers for this plan, there isn’t much difference financially compared to two different schools.  He noted that the problem with this option is that in option B, they could reduce some staff, but in this option there is little staff that can be cut.  He explained that his purpose is just to deal with the money.  He noted that he tends to deal with the least cost avenues so there is more to invest in other opportunities and this option doesn’t fit that definition.

Mr. Adams explained that option 2D’s plan still assumes a 2nd school at BRHS in its own district.  He noted that the models that he was given to review are both in excess spending penalty phases.  He explained that in a stand-alone situation, this model is valid, but doesn’t save much money for Ludlow.  There was discussion about the possible savings in option 2C no longer being $1 million because they have to fully staff another school.

Ms. Martin noted that this option would give the board the opportunity to drastically change the method that education was provided to students which won’t necessarily require the same amount of teachers as a traditional school.  A community member asked about the financials in option E, which is effectively a concept.  Mr. Dale explained that option E is the committee deciding that they are going to spend X per student averaged across the entire district and then backing into the programmatic changes.

Mr. Venter questioned if a hybrid between 2D and 2C.  He noted that the towns that are currently in the U39 could come together as a PreK-12 district.  This allows a more efficient 2C with a more effective 2D response.

Ms. Powden clarified scenario E, the schools would remain as they currently are and then formulate the current tax rate from those expenses.  Ms. Powden explained that option 2D includes the co-curriculars.  Mr. Venter noted that Craftsbury and Cabot both operate preK-12 districts with similar numbers of students but a much lower budget.  Mr. Adams noted that the LES and U39 budgets are approximately $5 million and include a chunk of Mt. Holly which wouldn’t be considered.  Ms. White asked if they could look at offering certain classes in only one community in order to save some fte’s in option 2C which would result in some savings.

Mr. Cunningham asked for a general listing of the savings in each of the options.  Mr. Adams noted that they began with the maximum savings and then adding back in.  Mr. Adams explained that there is about $100,000 per each penny on the tax rate.

Ms. Baker noted that the goal is to become unified.  There are a wealth of ideas in front of them.  She also noted that the communities want schools in their communities and they should honor them.  She suggested that option E is the way to go—set a cost per pupil goal and back into those costs programmatically.  This option keeps the buildings open, unifies them and allows them the time to define what it looks like.  It also allows them to make various choices down the road.  She noted that since they can’t be sure that all the assumptions were absolutely correct, this would be the better choice.  She also noted that unifying allows them to not limit their options for the students.  

There was discussion about whether there is actual savings with Mt. Holly leaving.  There was discussion about the savings with Mt. Holly staying.  Ms. DesLauriers noted that the group had discussed in the past the way to keep the tax rates cost neutral and set the cost per pupil at that rate.  She noted that she could support that if it is possible.  She explained that it would be difficult for Chester to accept a tax increase with no real change to how education is provided to its children.  This plan could hold everyone harmless and possibly provide additional opportunities for students.  There was discussion about what those figures would be for Ludlow.  Mr. Dale explained that there would be a single unified budget, so the board and administration would need to re-think how the single budget is applied to all the schools.  Mr. Dale suggested working option 2C and 2E from each direction and landing in the middle.  

Ms. DesLauriers noted that there are absolutes, such as not wanting to close BRHS, and Chester not supporting more cost without a plan that provides more.  She explained that they can determine reductions in order to realize savings.  Mr. Venter noted that at the first Baltimore meeting there was discussion about a target number that was discussed to keep everyone in hold harmless.  

Mr. Thomson noted that in the fall, they had discussed guiding principles and set them as necessary to meet within a proposal.  He suggested that the group needs to again review those principles as they discuss the proposals.  He explained how some of the principles are met with all the proposals, but some of them are not met with any of the proposals.  He suggested that the group needs to find a proposal that comes the closest to meeting those principles.  He asked the group if they can decide on anyone of these scenarios (B, C or D) with the understanding that there must be a financial target that could be met.

Ms. DesLauriers noted that progress could be made if they begin eliminating options.  Therefore she suggested that the group could consider eliminating option 2B.  The committee consensus was to eliminate option 2B.  Mr. Dale noted that the admin team recommends option 2C, while option 2D leaves Ludlow the ability to be self-contained.  Mr. Dakin questioned how savings is realized if Mt. Holly leaves the district.  Mr. Frank noted that Mt. Holly isn’t set to want to leave the district, but he thought that all the numbers reflected savings if Mt. Holly left.  Mr. Frank suggested that if the articles of agreement were such that they (and subsequently all TRSU students) were allowed to choose their school GMUHS or Mill River.  He also suggested having joint contracts.

Mr. Hutt Vater noted that the $1 million savings was based on the staffing changes if there were a regional HS and regional MS, not if Mt. Holly left.  The savings if Mt. Holly leaves is about 5cents.  He explained that Mt. Holly wanting to look at Mill River isn’t because one school is better than another, they are just different and meet different students’ needs.  There was discussion about the early assumptions that if Mt. Holly left BRHS would close and that is where a bit of savings could be achieved.

Ms. Mahusky suggested that they could make more progress by eliminating options and since option D doesn’t meet the guiding principles of providing for all students, they could eliminate option D.  Ms. White suggested that since students could attend any school in the district, there might be some Cavendish students who would want to go to a smaller school.  A public member questioned if there is a priority for the guiding principles and noted that if the priority is based on financials, that is a different approach than basing the priority on student opportunities.

Mr. Dale asked if the options were only between option C & D, with a modifier of option E.  There was discussion about whether any student within the district could attend any school within the district.  Mr. Dale noted that most districts allow an open process with some qualifiers such as availability.  He explained that this decision would be made by the school district board and there will be a process that would be followed.  There was discussion about scenario C with two campuses would be open to all secondary students, as would option D, but option E wouldn’t.  Mr. Dale noted that the board would have to make that as an article.  There was discussion about option C being a single sports unit, where D is clearly defined districts.  There was clarification about the difference in C and D, and all options assume that Mt. Holly leaves the district.  Mr. Dale noted that if the group doesn’t want Mt. Holly to leave, that is a different conversation.

Five people preferred option C and 5 people prefer option D and 2 people abstain.  Ms. DesLauriers noted that there is a significant amount of flexibility in the options.  Mr. Dale noted that this group would need to decide between option A and the others.  They could just say that they will come together and leave the rest to the new board.  Ms. DesLauriers questioned where the specification of cost per pupil could come in.  Mr. Dale noted that the group can give guidance and intent to the new board within the articles, but could not lock in a budget amount.

Mr. Fromberger reported that he voted for option 2 at the last meeting with the clear understanding that there would be one high school and one middle school and a building would be closed.  That is the basis under which he voted for option 2.  He felt lost in the options placed before him.  He felt that he could not ask his voters to vote to approve maintaining a system that is out of control.  He noted that his voters will not vote to approve an increase in taxes in order to bail out another town.  He explained that he was in option 3 which is very similar to the fall back option.  

Ms. Mahusky reported that all the committee members have put a lot of time into determining the best plan for all the students, but saving money is also a critical directive.  She suggested that the only way to do that is with a single district, but she wished it could be done without the hard decisions.  She felt that following the guiding principles, it would be difficult for her to support anything but option A.  She noted that more than 50% of the school population is in poverty and on free and reduced lunch.  She noted that enrollment will continue to decline.  She noted that option A creates substantial savings, but also creates opportunities for the students because they will have the resources with which to do it.  She also suggested that within a few years’ time, they will have the ability to create even more opportunities.

There was discussion about what happens in option A if Ludlow and/or Mt. Holly don’t support it.  Mr. Dale asked for A versus C/D/E versus acknowledging that there would not be a single district and those that feel that they can make a unified district move forward with that and those that can’t will have to work to determine the path that they will take.  Ms. DesLauriers noted that they keep talking about Mt. Holly like they are already gone, but they are not.  She noted that this group should also work on something that would pass.

Mr. Frank noted that he could only speak for himself and he wondered if they have spent too much time looking at the numbers.  He reported that the opportunity principle was more heavily weighted than the financial principle, but he understands that the economics are important.  He also noted that Ludlow may eventually look to Mill River as their option.  There was discussion about the original discussions about trying to merge with the Mill River district, when they were RSSU.  There was discussion about the cost per pupil at Mill River versus the opportunities at each school.  There is also a protection in the articles of agreement that make it very hard to close a school—unanimous vote of the superboard plus an affirmative vote of the affected town.  Mr. Venter noted that Mill River was considered when they began discussing the admin team’s proposal of a single high school.

Ms. DesLauriers noted that it is unlikely the voters of Mt. Holly and Ludlow would vote to dissolve U39.  Mr. Dakin moved to let the towns of Cavendish, Chester, Andover form a RED, inviting Baltimore to join if they choose.  Mr. Marin seconded.  Ms. White noted that they feel that they will end up back here, but it doesn’t feel fair to exclude the Ludlow voters in this decision and it doesn’t increase opportunities.  Mr. Venter felt that this vote would throw the past few years out the window because it would make it difficult for both sides to work together.  There was discussion about the public high school choice that is still allowed by law.  There was discussion about the limited school transfer within the elementary schools and middle school and whether that could continue.  There was discussion about Ludlow and Mt. Holly’s tax rates going up 25% in this option.  There was also discussion about the necessary program cuts that would need to be made in Ludlow and Mt. Holly as a result.  Mr. Schmidt reported that this motion would essentially cancel the vote taken in December.  This would also discharge Ludlow and Mt. Holly from the Act 46 committee.  Mr. Dale noted that if this committee votes this motion down but can’t agree on a resolution, the committee could then disband.  Mr. Venter noted that if this goes through, Ludlow and Mt. Holly will lose their small schools grant and won’t get tax incentives.

Ms. Mahusky noted that Chester/Andover/Cavendish are between a rock and a hard place in a different way than Ludlow and Mt. Holly are.  She noted that this decision isn’t being made to be spiteful.  Mr. Herbst questioned if the motion carried, it will free up Ludlow and Mt. Holly to join another SU and if so, both towns should think about the impact of them leaving to another SU.  Mr. Dale explained that if the district is formed, then Ludlow and Mt. Holly will need to create a proposal to present to the state board about what their plan is that will meet the goals of Act 46.  Mr. Hutt Vater suggested that to vote on this is premature.  This could go out to the voters and they might vote yes.  There is time to review options C, D and E with a more palatable financial structure.  He suggested that hastily working their way through this decision would require many cuts to the children of Ludlow and Mt. Holly.  Ms. Powden encouraged the committee to vote the motion down because working together they can make many changes that could benefit all the children.  Mr. Dakin felt that there hasn’t been much movement on it.  He wished to withdraw that motion if the seconder would also withdraw his second.  However if they don’t come up with a plan which requires significant compromises, they will all be penalized.  Mr. Fromberger noted that once the motion has been made and seconded it becomes the property of the board, and the ability to withdraw it is up to the board.  The committee consensus was to allow the withdrawal of the motion.  

Mr. Dale noted that the timeline is tight and even if this group decided on a plan that is subsequently approved by the voters, there are still many steps that need to be made.  He noted that if the committee can agree on any of the options, they could continue to move forward with the process, but they can’t do that with ambivalence.  Ms. Fogg questioned if the committee is not sure that Mt. Holly will be excluded.  She asked if they can look at it with Mt. Holly being included.  Mr. Fromberger reported that they have spent a year getting where they are, but they aren’t going anywhere.  He felt that they need to make a decision.  The solution that he is looking for is something that the voters can support.  He reported that his voters are more concerned with the finances.  

Mr. Fromberger questioned if the committee gets nowhere, would it then have to dissolve itself and then another committee is formed to look at its options.  Mr. Dale noted that if they get to a decision that the committee is not going to get anywhere, they can dissolve the committee and inform the state.  At which point the member towns can agree to form another committee.  Ms. Powden asked if the committee would entertain a motion to move forward with one district however it is decided to come together.  Mr. Dale asked for a straw poll of option A or C/D/E.  Option A has 5 supporters, while option C/D/E has 8 supporters.  If the only options on the table were C and D, which would be supported—8 for option C, 3 for option D.  Mr. Dale suggested further fleshing out option C.  

Ms. White noted that $3.8 million savings in option A can overwhelm the compromises within option C.  Mr. Venter questioned if Mt. Holly were in the mix for C&D, what difference it would make in the numbers.  He also asked if the numbers could be looked at in relation to the currently approved budgets, not the current fiscal year’s budget.  

B.  Public Comment:
Mr. Ripley reported that he is an administrator in the district—option C shows that GMUHS and BRHS would both be 7-12 high school buildings on the same school system.  The students would be able to switch between each school based on their plans and passions.  Mr. Herbst noted that the intent of Act 46 is to find the best opportunities for the students at the best cost, but tonight’s discussion is largely about finances.  Ms. Mahusky responded by saying that they have discussed opportunities, but they need to do it through the lens of what the voters can support.  She noted that they have to compare the opportunities based on the palatable cost to the voters.  Ms. Schmidt commended the committee for their work.  She appreciates each committee member’s opinion but feels that they can’t be afraid of a superboard, but the superboard is voting to close her school.  She noted that as a sending town they will still be sending those funds in order to support the students in Chester.  She felt that the millions in savings will not be from Chester, it would be from Ludlow.  Another voter felt that it is premature to say that the voters would not support a slight tax increase.  He noted that there is business that crosses the town lines and that may suffer.  Ms. Tarbell noted that they have to invest in the students because if they don’t belong, they won’t come back to this area and build the strong times.   She reported that her kids are 3rd generation BRHS alumni.  Ms. Wood questioned option C and if the personalized learning academy would just be at one location.  Ms. Martin noted that personalized learning will be offered at both campuses, but the resources and community would be leveraged to make each program unique and to complement each other, not duplicate learning.  She noted that a student could determine that their best path is at one campus or another.  Or the student could determine that their needs are best met by a combination.  

Ms. Martin noted that the committee has made progress and has received very solid feedback.  She said she would hate to see that work get thrown out.  She also noted that they can work together to continue to make progress.  Another community member felt that the idea of closing BRHS is toxic.  Another board member felt that he would like the board to focus on keeping Mt. Holly in the picture.  

Mr. Dale suggested a proposal of option C being more fully developed including Mt. Holly—both students and dollars—which is essentially reversing the decision made at the last meeting.  He suggested that they could then see if there is a way to get both of the campuses to a place that can be financially acceptable.  Mr. Dakin would like to see the budgetary impact as well, not just the tax impact.  They would need to develop a prototype budget, with a corresponding cost per student.  There was discussion about Baltimore still working on a decision.  He suggested that they build Baltimore into the financial model.  Mr. Adams questioned how the suggestion is different from what they have now.  Mr. Dakin suggested that if they can see the budget implications, they can see where certain cuts could be made in order to reduce the tax impact.  This also requires that the admin team further flesh out the operations in order to get a better picture of how the budget will be impacted.  Ms. Martin suggested that they don’t necessarily limit the proposal to C, in order to incorporate all of the feedback from tonight.  She also asked for a target number to meet.  

The next meeting will be on January 18, at 6:00 p.m. at CAES.  

Mr. Schmidt moved to adjourn at 8:48 p.m.  Ms. Mahusky seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

Respectfully submitted,

Amber Wilson