Ludlow voters OK $75,000 for Expeditionary School

The Ludlow Select Board hears from audience members concerning providing $75,000 to the Expeditionary School at Black River. Photo by Cara Philbin.

By Cara Philbin
©2023 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Voters at Ludlow’s annual Town Meeting on Monday voted to provide the private Expeditionary School at Black River with $75,000 in bridge funding for FY 2024.

The new funds follow a tumultuous launch for the school, which opened under the name Black River Independent School, with its first students arriving in September of 2020, just days after the Ludlow Select Board voted to allow them access to the former Black River High. That school was becoming costly to maintain in a town that did not have enough students to warrant keeping it open. And it fell victim to the region’s Act 46 merger of students in Andover, Baltimore, Cavendish, Chester, Ludlow and Mount Holly.

Only three years prior, Ludlow residents voted 344-172 to close Black River, which hosted grades 7 through 12, in favor of a regional district with Mount Holly Elementary.

Now in its third year, the Expeditionary School at Black River’s application for state approval and funding to serve students in grades 7-12 has been denied by the Vermont Agency of Education. This left the question of ongoing local funding up in the air, and Monday’s meeting involved extensive public debate with heated input from both sides.

Dean Alexander of Ludlow said residents “voted to close the school only to now buy a school, and only six students are from Ludlow. I don’t think it’s the town’s job to give that money to those kids. Where does it stop? We’re already in it for $100,000.”

Jarrod Harper, a Ludlow resident, cited the state’s refusal to approve the school as another reason to deny the new funds. “Why would we give them $75,000 on a hope and a prayer that something may happen?”

School trustee and founding member Pat Pullinen disagreed. “It’s a one-time ask,” Pullinen said. “We’re not just talking about six kids. We’re talking about a future.”

Other supporters of the funds included Select Board candidate Steven Meyers, who called the funds “an opportunity to keep local kids in school here in Ludlow. In my opinion, it’s a great idea.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Filed Under: Latest News

About the Author:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.