Ludlow residents petition for school merger re-vote, hope to keep BRHS alive

UPDATE: On Wednesday, Dec. 27, Ludlow’s Assistant Town Clerk and Treasurer Pamela Todt confirmed that the petition had 127 valid signatures and is therefore sufficient to cause a re-vote of the merger with Mount Holly.

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2017 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Ludlow kids campaign for a yes vote on the merger proposal that passed on Nov. 28. Telegraph file photos

With just two days left until a Dec. 28 deadline, voters in Ludlow have turned in petitions for a re-vote of the merger with the Mt. Holly school district, a merger that was aimed at creating a single school district with two elementary schools and eventually closing Black River High School.

According to one petition organizer — Sharon Bixby — three BRHS students delivered the petition with approximately 130 signatures to Ludlow Town Office around 3 p.m. on Tuesday, the day after Christmas.

Assistant Town Clerk and Treasurer Pamela Todt told The Telegraph it would take the signatures of 80 registered Ludlow voters to trigger the vote. While the clerk’s office was working on verifying petition signatures late this afternoon, Todt had not finished that task by the time the office closed.

Another demonstration urged on May 30 urged voters to defeat a merger with Mill River setting up the process that led to the Nov. 28 vote

If the petition is sufficient, the school board has 60 days to schedule a vote, which must be warned at least 30 days ahead of balloting. With that warning period, a vote could not come much earlier than the beginning of February.

Bixby said that she and several others who had been involved in the long merger process had been approached by a number of people who wondered what their votes actually meant.

“I think the wording of the original article was very confusing,” said Bixby on Tuesday afternoon. Bixby said she hoped the state legislature would take action in this coming session to help small schools like Black River stay open.

Bixby and others consulted the office of the Vermont Secretary of State to craft proper language for the petition.

Another group, the Black River Independent School Committee, saw the merger vote as an opportunity to open a private school to receive tuitioned students in Ludlow. Contacted on Tuesday night, committee member Uli Donohue said, “We are convinced that school choice and an independent school option in the Ludlow-Mt. Holly School district are the best way to preserve local middle and high school education with a sustainable future, while offering our students the best educational options for their individual needs.”

 

 

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  1. Raymond Makul says:

    One flaw under Vermont law is that nothing is ever final, and voter decisions can be put back into limbo again. Back around 15 years ago, this happened in Bellows Falls when the voters upended an agreement that they previously approved on the Bellows Falls dam and generation facility. In the present case involving Ludlow, the voters now have the opportunity to put themselves back to square one. This will result in the State Board of Education making the necessary decisions. Without doubt, that decision will be unpopular with a significant portion of the Ludlow community. And they will blame the State for their situation, while it will instead be their own responsibility for failure to take decisive action.

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