This letter is in reference of the upcoming vote on Nov. 28, either in favor of or against school choice in the towns of Ludlow and Mount Holly. One concern for many residents of Ludlow and some residents of Mount Holly is that they might lose their local middle and high school. We would like to clarify what the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ votes mean for the future of Black River High School.
Both options, ‘yes’ and ‘no,’ will mean Black River will stay open in the short term and both have the potential to keep Black River open in the long run, but neither can give a 100 percent guarantee.
Voting ‘no’ means Black River will remain open as a public school for the immediate future. But Black River has been struggling for years to remain financially viable due to dropping student numbers and an increasing cost of education. So, while voting ‘no’ will keep Black River open in the short term, the discussion about its viability will not go away and it will likely not solve the problem but only postpone the tough decisions that have to be made.
Voting ‘yes’ means Black River will close as a public school no later than 2020. But it also means that Ludlow and Mount Holly will have school choice, and this makes the option of maintaining Black River Middle and High School as an approved independent school in the town viable. It will be run as an independent non-profit organization and because of the way independent schools are structured they tend to be financially more efficient (cheaper) to run than public schools. Any child in the towns of Ludlow and Mount Holly would be eligible to attend such a school at no cost to the parents.
So both options have the potential to keep Black River open, but if you are considering the long-term viability of the school, voting ‘yes’ probably has a better chance of delivering a school that will still be here in 10 or 20 years. We appreciate it is hard to take the leap of faith, to embrace change and create something new, but we believe that it is the best way forward for our community.
With kind regards,
The Black River Independent School Committee