Category Archives for "School"

Barnard Meeting Proposed New High School February 15, 2024

Barnard Discusses...


Proposed $100 Million New Middle/High School Building

Short on Time? Read this Summary (click here)

Since you're short on time, let's get to the main points. The school board is proposing a $100 million new middle/high school building (the bond amount would actually be $99 million). You as a property tax payer will pay for the vast majority of the cost. If the proposal is accepted by the voters of the school district on Tuesday, March 5th; your taxes will go up beginning with your tax payment in August of 2027.

The school district finance director provided to the public an Excel spreadsheet so you can estimate your tax increase. You can download it here. To make it easier if you don't have Microsoft Excel on your computer; you can get an estimate right on this website - click here.

The proposed school building was presented to the residents of Barnard on Feb 15th. A video recording (click here) was made of the presentation as well as a lot of questions from the public; both in-person and online. To save you some time, there is a list (right below the video) of questions or comments from the public. Click on one of the questions and you'll jump to the part of the video where that is discussed.

Remember to VOTE on Tuesday, March 5th; "Your Vote is Your Voice".

Learn Before You Vote

There was a gathering of people from Barnard on February 15th to hear from 2 school board members and 2 school district administrators about a proposed new middle/high school. The building is intended to replace the existing middle/high school building.

The meeting was well attended both in-person and online. The format of the presentation allowed for questions and comments throughout. The attendees took full advantage to voice their thoughts about the proposed $100 million building project (the bond amount would actually be for $99 million).

Quite naturally, many of the questions touched on: (a) justification of the need for a new building; (b) the size and configuration of the proposed building, and; (c) the cost and cost reductions.

A vote will happen on town meeting day, Tuesday, March 5th in all towns that make up the Mountain Views Supervisory Union (formerly, Windsor Central Supervisory Union; WCSU).

There has been a lot of talk in the media and the public in recent weeks about property taxes and the potential tax surge. The vote on this project is not directly related to the possible tax increase that you'll see in your mailbox this summer.

If this project is approved, you would see the tax increase in 2027. The school district's finance director provided an Excel spreadsheet that you can download (here) and estimate the tax impact of the project on you. If you are not able to run that spreadsheet, a simplified tax estimator is included on this website (here); the answers it provides are based on results from the school finance director's spreadsheet.

You can watch the presentation and hear the questions from Barnard residents on the video below.


See the LIST of QUESTIONS below the video.
CLICK on a QUESTION and JUMP directly to that part of the video.
video
play-sharp-fill

    Find Out Your Estimated Tax


    to Pay for the Proposed $100 million Middle/High School

    The finance director of the school district provided to the public a spreadsheet to estimate the tax impact of the proposed new school building. The spreadsheet can be downloaded from the school district site, here. The spreadsheet in its calculations uses a bond amount of $99 million. To use the spreadsheet, here's what you should know. 

    Your computer needs to have Microsoft Excel installed on it. You also need to know the basics of running Excel. If that's a bit too much for you to deal with, this website has taken the results of the finance director's spreadsheet and made it more convenient for you to get your tax estimate (for NON-income-sensitized homeowners).

    NOTE: Income-sensitized homeowners will have an estimated tax that is LESS than shown in the Tax Estimator. To get the income-sensitized tax estimate, download the Excel spreadsheet from the finance director, here

    One thing you'll need is your recent property tax bill. You only need 1 number from it, the TOTAL TAXABLE VALUE. Look at the sample tax bill below and you'll easily see where that figure is located.

    The estimated tax values (for NON-income-sensitized homeowners) are based on the results obtained from the spreadsheet provided by the district finance director. The spreadsheet shows some assumptions that are subject to change. Those assumptions are shown in the image below.

    NOTE: Income-sensitized homeowners will have an estimated tax that is LESS than shown in the Tax Estimator. To get the income-sensitized tax estimate, download the Excel spreadsheet from the finance director, here

    How to Use
    the Simplified Tax Estimator

    1. Write down the TOTAL TAXABLE VALUE from your recent property bill.
    2. If your TOTAL TAXABLE VALUE is between $200 thousand and $1 million, use TAX ESTIMATOR A.
    3.  If your TOTAL TAXABLE VALUE is between $1.1 million and $3.0 million, use TAX ESTIMATOR B.
    4. Click the appropriate Tax Estimator button below and follow the simple instructions. You'll be done in less than 30 seconds. 
          

    VOTING DAY

    TODAY - Tuesday, March 5th. 

    Polls Open: 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM

    18 Member School Board Meeting November 25, 2019

    ​Would this Large Board from 6 Other Towns

    Govern the Barnard School Better than

    Our Traditional Local Board?


    Scroll Down to See Meeting Video

    ​​​​​​​Learn Before You Vote

    ​There will be an important vote in Barnard on Tuesday, December 10th. The ​question; Do Barnard voters want to voluntarily merge control and budgeting of Barnard Academy (our elementary school) with schools from 6 other towns and have minority representation on a multi-town governing board of 18 members?

    ​The video below is of the 18 member board at a meeting held in Killington on November 25th (a few are absent or late to the meeting). At this time, Barnard is only a member of this large board to provide representation for middle school and high school issues. In the video, you will see the 2 representatives from Barnard.  

    However, on Tuesday December 10th, if Barnard votes to merge with schools from the other 6 towns, our 3 person local school board ​will no longer exist. Also, we will NOT vote on Barnard School budgets any longer. The 18 member board would takeover and control the ​governing of the Barnard School. ​​​

    ​...if Barnard votes to merge with schools from the other 6 towns, our 3 person local board from Barnard will no longer exist. ​


    Also, we will NOT vote on a Barnard School budgets any longer.

    ​Once that vote is taken and the decision made, there is no going back. ​You can get a glimpse before the vote of the nature of the large board by viewing the video below.

    ​Because of the great importance of the decision by Barnard voters, 2 of our local board members have held ​several informational meetings. The second meeting was filmed and ​can be seen, here. ​There ​were a lot of questions and comments from Barnard residents at that meeting. You can see it all, here

    Most importantly, be sure you understand what's going on and then go and vote on Tuesday, December 10th.

    See the LIST of ​TOPICS below the video.
    CLICK on a ​TOPIC and JUMP directly to that part of the video.
    Below the video, where you see [BARNARD, Pamela] or [BARNARD, Bryce] 
    ​you can click on those to hear comments from our 2 Barnard representatives.​
    video
    play-sharp-fill

      A Town Vote that is NOT Required by Law – Revisiting School Merger – Info Meeting, September 11, 2019

      ​​A Town Vote that is NOT Required by Law

      Why is Barnard Academy Merger Talk 
      Back in the News?

      ​Listen to the Public Meeting Recording

      ​September 11, 2019

      ​Barnard school board members held a meeting on September 11th to ​explain why school merger is back in the news. They filled in the background information and gave updates all while keeping the meeting neutral from a merge or don't merge point of view.  

      ​The meeting, recorded by Chloe Powell, is posted below for your listening pleasure. 

      Barnard School Merger Info Meeting November 21, 2019

      ​Barnard Academy ​​Discusses Merger Before VOTE


      Scroll Down to See Meeting Video

      ​​​​​​​Learn Before You Vote

      ​There will be an important vote in Barnard on Tuesday, December 10th. The ​question; Do Barnard voters want to voluntarily merge Barnard Academy (our elementary school) with schools from 6 other towns and have minority representation on a multi-town governing board of 18 members?

      ​Because of the great importance of the decision by Barnard voters, 2 of our local board members have held 3 informational meetings. The second meeting was filmed and is shown below. (The first meeting has an audio-only recording, here.)

      ​Also, there was a recent meeting showing the operation of the 18 member multi-town merged school board. You can see a video of that meeting, here.  

      It's important that you fully understand the points presented by the board members AND also the questions and comments from the community members who attended. So, extra efforts have been taken so that you can watch the video in full OR click on the various topics that are listed below the video and jump directly to that topic.

      Making tough decisions can be... well, tough. Judging from some comments at the informational meeting, ​that is certainly the case for some people. If you feel like I'm talking to you, then I've got something for you that might just help ​out. Here's a link to "A Short Guide to Tough Decisions". Try it out, it's been help​ful (it's at the bottom of this page).

      Most importantly, be sure you understand what's going on and then go and vote on Tuesday, December 10th.

      See the LIST of ​TOPICS below the video.
      CLICK on a ​TOPIC and JUMP directly to that part of the video.
      video
      play-sharp-fill

        A Short Guide to Tough Decisions

        1. SIMPLIFY. Write down the most important issue on the "Pro" side and write the most important issue on the "Con" side. Never mind the other issues, just focus on the big ones on each side. Then ask yourself these 2 questions.
            (a) How much does the Pro side help me? A little or a lot?
            (b) How much does the Con side hurt me? A little or a lot?
            
        ​From here, it's easy to decide. If something helps you a little but hurts you a lot; most people would take the Con side. If the situation is reversed; help a lot - hurt a little then, take the Pro side.
            
        Next, continue to #2.

        2. BALANCE AN EGG. Yes, you can balance an egg on it's tip IF everything is perfect. But is this a perfect world? Whatever decision you came to in step 1, ask yourself; Does everything have to be perfect to get the result I decided on?

        So, if perfection is required to get the outcome you expect, maybe you'll want to reconsider step 1. Otherwise, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise (and a cracked egg on the floor).
            
        Next, continue to #3.

        3. WHY IS THIS A QUESTION? If you are the one asking the question, then you know why you're asking it. But if someone else is asking the question you'll be deciding on, then ask yourself these 2 questions.
            (a) Do they truly have my best interest in mind? Yes or No?
            (b) How do I really know that? Write down your answer.

        Next, continue to #4.    

        4. FUTURE REGRET. Regret is a tough thing to live with. This tip may help to keep away regret. Review your answers in steps 1 ,2, and 3. What decision are you leaning toward right now? Ask yourself these 3 questions.
            (a) If I'm honest with myself, am I happy with that decision?
                    If No, then switch your decision.
            (b) If I explained the reasons for my decision to my best friend, would I feel comfortable doing that?
                    If No, then switch your ​decision. 
            (c) If I explained the reasons for my decision to myself 1 year from now, would I feel comfortable doing that?
                    If No, then definitely switch your ​decision.

        Governor to Dismantle Vermont Public Education – June 1, 2018

        ​COMMENTARY

        Governor's Plan Aims to Dismantle
        Public Education​ in Vermont

        Plan forces rural school districts to merge
        against the wishes of their electorate


        ​Plan does not provide evidence

        of fiscal or educational benefit

        Margaret Maclean - Vermonters for Schools & Communities

        ​​June 1, 2018

        The administration of Governor Scott released a plan today that disregards the wishes of the local electorate.  This action is an attempt to begin to dismantle public education in Vermont. The plan forces school districts to merge governance. It is not accompanied by evidence to show merger will save dollars, offer more opportunities for students or demonstrate increased efficiency.

        Following the passage of Act 46, local school boards in many communities studied the possibility of merging for over two years. They found that merging would destabilize the quality of education, disconnect families from their schools and schools from their communities and ultimately would not save money or increase opportunity.  School boards decided they could better meet the goals of the law via an alternative plan, an option under Act 46. Voters in these communities have rejected merger at the ballot box and/or approved the alternative plans developed by their elected school boards.

        “Merger does not make schools better or cheaper. It merely empowers bureaucracy — which is of course why it appeals to state government. It distances citizens’ voices from decision-making and magnifies the voice of outside interests, of politicians, managers, and lobbyists. It shifts priorities from teaching to accountancy. It narrows the scope for civic action and degrades our capacity to organize and govern ourselves. In sum, it works against both democracy and education.” Scott Thompson, U-32 board (Calais), member of the Washington Central SU merger study committee 2015-17

        By undermining the stability of these school districts and their ability to work collaboratively with their neighbors the Scott administration is laying the groundwork for dismantling public education in Vermont.  The unnecessary strife and turmoil caused by this action exposes forced merger as a charade.

        "This forced merger will make our current union smaller and less efficient by eliminating the town of Vernon from our Union, move resources from the highest poverty areas to the lowest, and improve nothing but the job conditions of the superintendent and business manager. That's why it was voted down in all the towns by a 2-1 margin. This is all politics not what is best for our children” David Schoales, Brattleboro School Board

        In our lifetime, we're going to see fifty percent of the world's species go extinct. Are we going to add 100% of Vermont’s community schools to that list? Steve Mason, Lowell School Board.

        The next step is for the State Board of Education to review each community’s plan at public meetings in July, August and September. The State Board will then vote to approve local plans or comply with the administrations plan and force the merger of these districts by November 2018.


        Barnard Youth Competes at FIRST Robotics Championship

        Stephen Darling - 7th Grader from Barnard

        Competes at FIRST Robotics Championship in Detroit 

        ​April 26, 2018

        Stephen Darling, a 7th grader from Barnard is a part of the 17 member team representing all of Vermont and competing in the FIRST Robotics championship. The competition is being held this week in Detroit. The Vermont team has members from a variety of schools from around the Upper Valley.

        Congratulations Stephen!

        A source close to Stephen says he attributes his start in robotics and computer programming to Barnard Academy technology teacher Eileen Vaughn and science teacher Nancy Boymer.

        Here are a couple of key points about the competition as published in an article in the Detroit News.

        • Detroit is hosting the competition for the first time and will continue hosting it in 2019 and 2020.

        • The event is expected to attract more than 40,000 people and bring $30 million to the state economy of Michigan.

        • Students from 25 states and 45 countries are participating in the competition.

        • There are 3 levels of competition. FIRST Robotics, ages 14 – 18; FIRST Tech Challenge, ages 12 – 18; FIRST Lego League, ages 9 – 16.

        You can see that for Stephen, Barnard’s small elementary school was the incubator for his interest in technology and robotics. The good news is that many students develop lifelong interests and passions in their small elementary schools, particularly when nurtured by caring teachers who have the time to work with and encourage the students in their small classes.

        As of this writing, the governor of Vermont, certain members of the state legislature, and others are trying to do 2 things. One; close many small elementary schools.  Two; find $30 million to fill a Vermont budget deficit.

        Can this be? Close down the schools that we see are incubating the homegrown talent that can bring big dollars into the state? Say it ain’t so;  because it surely makes no sense!

        One other irony is the FIRST Robotics was co-founded by Dean Kamen, famed inventor whose company, DEKA is located in Manchester, NH. Taking a moment to dream; wouldn’t it have been wonderful if Vermont had won the bid to host the competition?

        Or better yet, what if Vermont applied a bit of effort to foster something like FIRST Robotics (please, no carbon copies of FIRST). There are plenty of other opportunities to develop such win-win-win programs. That is; the students win, Vermont citizens win, and yes even the politicians win. But it all starts with the willingness to make it happen and a strong spirit of cooperation​!

        Any politicians ​listening?

        Watch LIVE coverage of the FIRST Robotics competition. The competition goes on through Saturday, April 28th, 2018.

        Link to LIVE coverage, https://www.firstchampionship.org/watch-live

        Link to Detroit News story, https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/detroit-city/2018/04/24/students-robotics-competition-detroit/34218883/

        Link to Crain’s Detroit storyhttp://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20180412/news/657991/first-robotics-competition-to-draw-35000-to-downtown-detroit-showcase 

        Barnard Academy Staff Speak Out

        Barnard Academy

        A Letter from the Barnard Academy Staff

        Vote NO for Act 46

        First of all, we would like to thank the Act 46 Committee for their dedication and effort in designing a proposal to comply with Act 46. We appreciate the challenge in this immense responsibility. We are also aware that this volunteer work has resulted in critical reactions and strong emotions that none were expecting. Our wish is not to add to the criticism, yet we feel compelled to respond to false or misleading statements made in support of the proposal and to point out some of the unique experiences shared by the PreK - 6 students who attend Barnard Academy.

        The current proposal is to change Barnard Academy and Reading Elementary into PreK - 4 schools. The 5th and 6th graders would be moved to one of the schools in the “Unification District”; Prosper Valley, Woodstock Elementary or Killington Elementary. The Unification Board will consist of 2 members from Barnard, 2 members from Pomfret, 2 members from Reading, 2 members from Bridgewater, 2 members from Killington, and 6 members from Woodstock. The following is a list of reasons why this plan is not in the interest of our students or community.

        · The property tax incentive that has been reported decreases each year and will eventually go away.

        · Your tax dollars and all the school property will belong to the new “Unification District”. The Unification Board will be in charge. Note: Five towns each get two people on the committee. Woodstock gets six.

        · Having fifth and sixth graders attend a different school will require some Barnard families to have children in two different schools, or send all of their children to a school other than Barnard.

        · There is a strong possibility that this would cause our K-4 population to decrease, which could eventually lead to closure of our school.

        · The exceptional programs offered in our community will not be available to our students.

        · Our school is well equipped and well maintained. Our flooring is modern. The plumbing and wiring are in good shape. The grounds are also fine. We have a tennis court, an awesome and safe playground, and a soccer/baseball field. What is this being traded for?

        · The fifth and sixth grade children can walk to the Silver Lake State Park with their microscopes, and examine microorganisms in their own back yard. They also use the brook in the back of the school to study watersheds and ecosystems. What is this being traded for?

        · The entire school walks to the Barnard Town Hall for the annual Thanksgiving Luncheon.

        · Teachers can walk with their classes to the Barnard General Store, as well as Silver Lake. What is this being traded for?

        · Our fifth and sixth graders, supported by the residents of our town, have a partnership with the Hood Museum in Hanover. They are bussed to Hanover six times per year where they study art from various cultures and times, then create a project based on the presentation of the day. This would go away.

        · Our fifth and sixth graders become the leaders in our school. They are charged with community service such as collecting trash each day, putting up flags and helping teachers with compost and recycling. Our fifth and sixth graders feel a great sense of pride and loyalty to their town and their school. If they are bussed to another town, their role as community leaders would go away.

        · Our entire school, with the fifth and sixth graders as leaders, perform outstanding musical theater productions, led by our performing arts teacher, with cooperation and support of the classroom teachers and staff. Students read/speak lines, sing, dance, and wear authentic costumes and makeup during these productions. This unique experience would go away because none of the other schools in the proposed Unified District offer musical theater.

        · Our entire school takes an annual educational field trip each year. Every other year, this is an overnight trip to places such as The Boston Science Museum, Mystic Seaport in CT, and Plimouth Plantation in MA. It is due to the support from our Barnard community that we are able to do this. This too, would end.

        · Over 50 years of research supports how smaller class sizes improve student success in life. Moving our 5th and 6th graders to another school would require a huge shift in their social/emotional and academic confidence. They would be the “new kids” joining an already well-established group in their home school, in their community. It is a very different experience than what happens to all the sixth graders in the district who enter WUMS at the same time.

        · One of the justifications for moving our fifth and sixth graders is the fact that one of the schools in the new district has a “STEM Lab”. This lab is in Woodstock Elementary, so unless the 5th and 6th graders go there, they will not have the opportunity to use that lab. Our teachers in Barnard have all actively participated in creating new science units based on the New Generation Science Standards, which include the requirements of a STEM program. We also have a partnership with the Montshire Museum, which incorporates engineering through use of their materials and expertise. The fact that there is a STEM lab in one school, does not justify moving our fifth and sixth graders out of their own school.

        · Another justification for moving our 5th and 6th graders is a misleading statement that the students in the district enter middle school with very different experiences. When asked for clarification, the answer is: other schools have Phys Ed, Spanish or Art twice a week. There is no mention of the core academic subjects of math, literacy, social studies or science. All of the elementary schools teach common science, literacy, social studies and math concepts, skills and units. The Middle School staff has not been asked for their input regarding different experiences and how those experiences do or do not affect populations of students entering 7th grade from individual schools.

        · The charts and graphs and test scores presented during presentations are misleading. The standardized tests only evaluate mathematics and literacy. Barnard students consistently perform higher than the state average on test scores. There are no standardized tests for Science, Phys. Ed, Art or Spanish. The different experiences referred to do not impact standardized test performance.

        So far, those are the defining points to justify moving/bussing our 5th and 6th graders away from their community. These justifications simply do not warrant splitting up our exceptional elementary school.

        Finally, we want to thank our community for the consistently positive support through the years – the BEES, the Barnard Education Fund, Twin Farms, The Silver Lake Association, and the many families and students for making Barnard Academy the successful, unique community school that it is today.

        Respectfully,

        The Barnard Academy Staff

        February 13, 2017

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