Small crowd for Mill River merger meeting in Ludlow

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2017 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Considering the emotion that has swirled around the question of what should happen to Black River High School in the Act 46 school consolidation, a surprisingly small crowd turned out on Monday night to hear about and ask questions on the plan.

Subtracting board members, Two Rivers Supervisory Union employees, teachers, administrators and the principal of Mill River High – David Younce – fewer than 25 members of the public showed up.

School Superintendent Meg Powden gave a PowerPoint presentation outlining the merger while Younce filled in with comments and explanations of how Mill River is operated. He noted that Mill River students are excited about the merger because “more students make for more educational opportunities.” In fact, according to the merger report approved by the State Board of Education on April 18, closing Black River High School and sending its students north would mean a $1.4 million windfall for the Clarendon school.

During question time, Angela Murphy asked if anyone had calculated the impact on local businesses of closing the high school. Ludlow Elementary Board member Lisa Schmidt told Murphy that, “Quality of education is the bigger issue. We’re not responsible for hurting businesses in town.”

Black River High School board member Bruce Schmidt spoke to the issue of a Plan B where the merger is defeated.

“If any good comes out of a no vote, it may be more people trying to make it better,” said Schmidt,who said he would call upon the school board to hang back if the plan goes down rather than rushing to put together a new plan. “Stop and get behind the organization that wants to do more with the school.”

“I’d love to see the school get better,” said Alison Blodgett, “but I’m afraid of the taxes going up, up up. People can’t afford to live here.”

There will be two more information meetings:

  • Tuesday May 9, 6p.m. at the Mount Holly School, 150 School St.
  • Tuesday May 23, 6 p.m. at Ludlow Elementary School, 45 Main St.

In addition, a parent led group that is working on a plan in case the Mill River merger does not go through will meet on Thursday, April 27 at 6 p.m. in the cafeteria of the Community Center at 37 Main St. in Ludlow.

The merger vote is to be held on Tuesday, May 30.

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