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The Valley Reporter
P.O. Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673

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Local control or not?


To The Editor:

I would like to thank all the voters of Rochester, Vermont, for allowing me the honor of serving a three-year term as a school board member. It is time for me to pass on the baton so that others can experience how local taxation works.

Earlier this year, Rochester voted to keep high school education local. The underlying question is, how? The public school model or a different management model? Since that vote, the Vermont Senate has passed Bill S.91 to create a two-year moratorium preventing town governments from changing out of the public school model, like North Bennington has recently done. Now, S.91 heads to the House for consideration. At the same time, the House Education Committee is pushing to do away with local school boards and much more.

Let's assume the state is successful in this restructuring. In three years or less, the state could inform Rochester that high school education will need to leave our community. What would happen to our town's investment of over $10 million in school assets? Could we sell now to the state and wash our hands of local control, allowing the state to make our budget decisions for us? Sounds easy, no hassle, no democratic process. Will this new education model teach the history of small-town democracy? Will it matter, since Rochester and many other small towns have low voter turnout? Maybe the past 25 years of public education have failed the local taxpayers in teaching small-town democracy and participation.

On Monday, March 31, at 7 p.m., the Rochester annual school meeting will be held at the high school auditorium. The school budget vote will be taking place all day on Tuesday, April 1, at the Rochester town office. At the meeting, Article 11 is your time to discuss this issue and whether your town will protect local control or not. I suggest that Rochester send a fact-finding delegation to interview North Bennington's select board, school board and school headmaster. Today, North Bennington is focusing on their youth's education, not whether or not the state will be eliminating their local school board and seizing their school assets.

Again, thank you for allowing me to serve my town and I hope to see the highest Rochester voter turnout ever on Monday night.

Mason Wade



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