Having read over what the Independent School committee handed out at the informational meeting relating to the closing of Black River High School, I am perplexed.
They say that an independent/private school, while tending to be too small to have team sports, will “cost less to operate,” yet they plan to use the “same building,” “provide transportation,” encourage “all current staff…to apply,” “provide competitive pay and benefits to teachers,” and “address the achievement gap between families from different socioeconomic backgrounds.” How will doing what the current public school does, but with fewer students, cost less?
One thing that doesn’t get mentioned is the monetary benefit to families that can afford to send their children to the Okemo Mountain School. The option up for a vote on Nov. 28 offers school choice to any school. Taxpayers will be paying for students to attend OMS. Unfortunately, OMS doesn’t run for the full school year so the total tuition rate would not be covered…therefore students from poorer families would not be able to afford this “choice.” Those who can afford this school will reap a taxpayer-funded benefit.
It seems to me that time would be better spent volunteering at the school that already exists. Students may not be planning ski trips to Vail, but they have gone to France and Spain and are earning money to visit Iceland with a science teacher. Helping to raise these funds would help more students of every socioeconomic level to take advantage of this opportunity.
The Independent School Committee recognizes that a high school is “an economic driver.” I’d suggest that they get involved with the current high school and then BRAG about it. That’s how to draw families to this area!