To the editor: Get the facts and vote on May 30

This letter is for the parents of students that would be impacted by the Section 721 merger vote.

As you may know, there has been a lot of noise out there about Act 46, Section 721 and the upcoming vote for Ludlow and Mt Holly on May 30 to decide whether or not to close Black River MS/HS and to merge with Mill River Union High School. There have been countless meetings, postings, letters to the editors with all the ‘facts’ of Act 46, Section 721 and what this merger would mean for our students and for our taxpayers. I won’t get into that, as there is already way too much fear and confusion out there. So I just wanted to encourage people to be calm.

There is a small but powerful group out there that are whipping up a lot of scary ‘statistics’ and ‘facts’ about what will happen if we don’t vote to close Black River. One mailing that went out from the Mt. Holly School Board (not the Ludlow School Board, mind you, Ludlow residents got a different ‘fact’ list) with a lot of bold and capitalized information. I get it. They are scared. They are protecting the future of their school. I appreciate their passion to protect our children. But I worry that in their panic, they are using fear and threats to get people to vote to close Black River. The state will make our decisions for us! Our taxes will go through the roof! We will lose our small schools grant! Our kids will not succeed! All not facts. Possibilities? Maybe (except for that last one – our kids will be phenomenal regardless). But please don’t panic. Keep your frontal lobe engaged! Do your own research and vote for what is best for your student. Check out http://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/document/2018/10/Date/4-4-2017 if you want to learn the facts!

The Superintendent of Mill River has been at many informational meetings. Mr. Younce is a very nice guy who would like to have our students, as Mill River, like every other school in the state, needs to worry about declining enrollments. He talks about an amazing school. Yes, it is bigger, yes, they have more courses, yes they have more sports. Mr. Younce has sponsored field trips to come check out the school, and I heard they put on an impressive presentation. But it is just a school. They have their problems too. And it may not a good fit for some students.

Black River is an incredible school as well! Individualized learning, flexible graduation paths, strong teams that wrap around all their students, and smaller numbers in classrooms and teams, so anyone interested gets to participate. And Black River will have it’s presentation as well on May 24th at the School Wide Showcase at 2pm. Go check it out! Award winning students, teachers, sports teams, leadership teams, and presidents have been coming from Black River for years – and will for years to come. And is it a great fit for all students? Of course not. No school is.

I encourage all parents of students who will be affected to use your parent power to make the best decision on May 30 for you and your family. Talk to your kids, think about their learning styles and needs. Do they embrace change and new challenges? Do they struggle with transitions or new people? Will they flourish in a larger school? Do they need more guidance and close teacher relationships? Will transportation times and directions be a major or a minor change for you? Go visit Mill River on a regular school day. You know your child better than anyone else. You and you alone need to vote for what your family needs. Please sift through all the drama, and vote for the best decision for you and your family.

Please keep in mind. No matter what happens, children are resilient and they will adjust. Young people usually do this much better than us old folks, so I have every belief that whatever happens May 30th, the sun will rise on the 31st, and we will start planning for whatever we need to. And even though it may be difficult, we will help our children through whatever happens and they will be okay.

Please vote May 30th!
Deb Harrison
Cavendish

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