Act 46 committee struggles to define its purpose

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copyright the Chronicle March 15, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

BARTON — A committee formed Monday evening to study how schools in the Orleans Central Supervisory Union (OCSU) will comply with the state mandate to consolidate into fewer districts struggled with the seemingly simple task of defining its goals.

Members of the committee were sharply divided on whether the point is to make another try at consolidating into a single unified school district, or explore other alternatives.

And they disagreed about whether to have the process driven by input from the community, or whether to start with the state mandate and figure out how to sell it to voters.

About 20 people, some members of the Act 46 Study Committee, and some interested citizens, came to the meeting in the COFEC building in Barton.

It was the committee’s first meeting since Town Meeting Day, when study committee members from each school district opened a dialogue with the public at their respective meetings and passed out copies of an updated Act 46 survey.

At its first meeting, the study committee decided it was important to get more public input.

Although the district merger proposal was defeated last year by five of the six towns in the Orleans Central Supervisory Union, only 552 people actually went to the polls.

In many towns, the margins were narrow, Chair Amy Leroux pointed out. In Albany, the consolidation measure was only defeated by three votes.

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Glover parents want holidays returned to school

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copyright the Chronicle October 26, 2016

by Elizabeth Trail

GLOVER — It was standing room only at Glover Community School Monday night as community members crowded into a classroom to talk to the school board about the news that there won’t be a Halloween celebration at the school this year.

About 25 people showed up at the school board meeting, along with Orleans Central Supervisory Union (OCSU) Superintendent Donald Van Nostrand, Principal Angelique Brown, and some faculty members.

In addition, Christina Borland has started an online petition asking that “holiday celebrations that have become community traditions within our school be reinstated.

“We understand that the school is a place for education, but that education must also include community education goals as well as academic goals,” the petition says, in part.

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Glover parents question Halloween ban

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copyright the Chronicle October 12, 2016

by Elizabeth Trail

GLOVER — The October lunch menu at the Glover Community School said that Halloween lunch would be spider bellies, spider legs, and bones.

A day later the school sent a corrected menu home with students. This time, lunch on October 31 was scheduled to be chicken tenders, french fries, and celery sticks.

Then parents learned that the school’s traditional pumpkin carving contest had been canceled.

And students won’t be allowed to wear costumes to school.

“We need to keep religious celebrations and holidays out of schools,” said Angelique Brown, the new Glover principal.

Before coming to Glover, Ms. Brown was assistant principal at a school in Groveton, New Hampshire.

That school eliminated in-school holiday celebrations at least five years ago, she said. And most other areas don’t allow them.

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School leaders weigh in on OCSU merger plans

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copyright the Chronicle May 18, 2016

by Elizabeth Trail

Since early spring, representatives of the Orleans Central Supervisory Union (OCSU) merger study committee have been holding informational meetings in anticipation of the school district merger vote scheduled for June 7.

Although the study committee is strongly recommending that communities vote for the merger, not everyone has bought wholeheartedly into the committee members’ arguments.  “I’d love to see a public debate about this, with speakers from both sides,” said Todd Rivver, principal of Albany Community School.  “The supervisory union has done a very effective job of presenting their side, but we really haven’t heard any other point of view.”

Within the OCSU, the debate, if any, is muted.

“I have the opportunity as superintendent to see the successes and challenges each district…To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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State approves consolidation plan for OCSU

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copyright the Chronicle April 20, 2016

by Elizabeth Trail

BARTON — The State Board of Education on Tuesday unanimously approved the Orleans Central Supervisory Union’s (OCSU) plan for a consolidated school district.

Meanwhile the committee that has been working on that plan is holding informational meetings in the OCSU towns that will vote on consolidation in June.

Only three members of the public showed up at the meeting at the Barton Graded School on Saturday norming.

The meeting covered the articles of agreement that the state had to approve before the school district merger vote on June 7.

“You should have more people here,” said Grace Mason, a resident of Barton and former town clerk. “I made it clear to all my friends that they should come to this meeting, but as you can see, they didn’t.”

“There is a lot of misinformation out there,” said Amy Leroux…To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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No plans to consolidate at NCSU

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copyright the Chronicle February 3, 2016

by Nathalie Gagnon-Joseph

While the Orleans Central Supervisory Union (OCSU) prepares to go ahead with consolidation under Act 46, North Country Supervisory Union (NCSU) Superintendent John Castle is against the idea.

The NCSU hasn’t moved towards consolidating at all, he said.  Instead, it will have what the law calls an alternative structure, where it will remain a supervisory union and its districts will keep their own school boards.

“I advocated strongly against the adoption of the law,” Mr. Castle said.  “I’ve had real concerns…To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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OCSU committee approves plan for consolidation

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copyright the Chronicle January 27, 2016

by Nathalie Gagnon-Joseph

The Orleans Central Supervisory Union (OCSU) Act 46 study committee is recommending early consolidation in order to take advantage of the tax breaks it offers.

On Tuesday, the committee approved articles of agreement that spell out what a consolidated district, the Orleans Central Unified Union School District, will look like.

The draft plan will be presented to the public for its feedback in February, and district towns will vote on it by Australian ballot on May 24.

The single district will include Albany, Brownington…To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Drilling underway on new well for Lake Region

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Drilling began on Friday for a new water well at Lake Region Union High School.  As of Tuesday morning, H.A. Manosh was still drilling.  A big pile of dirt shows that progress is being made.  Photo by Elizabeth Trail

Drilling began on Friday for a new water well at Lake Region Union High School. As of Tuesday morning, H.A. Manosh was still drilling. A big pile of dirt shows that progress is being made. Photo by Elizabeth Trail

copyright the Chronicle September 23, 2015

by Elizabeth Trail

Drilling began Friday on Lake Region Union High School’s new well.

About two weeks into the new school year, Lake Region maintenance personnel discovered that there was no water in the building.  The well refilled a little overnight, and the school limped carefully through the remainder of the week. But it soon became clear that the school was going to need a new well.

“I know just enough about this to be dangerous,” Principal Andre Messier said at the Lake Region school board meeting on Thursday night.

Normally, the school draws about 3,000 to 3,500 gallons of water a day, Mr. Messier said.  At the time that the well failed, the draw was about 6,000 gallons a day, and a leak was discovered… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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OCSU board picks new superintendent

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Bruce Labs.  Photo by Richard Creaser

Bruce Labs. Photo by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle February 26, 2014

by Richard Creaser

The Orleans Central Supervisory Union (OCSU) school board has tendered an offer to a new superintendent.

The name is not yet being released pending the candidate’s acceptance, but two final candidates were interviewed in public Tuesday afternoon.  A decision was made after the interviews and a lengthy executive session.

On Tuesday evening OCSU school board chairman Amy Leroux of Irasburg confirmed that the board has tendered an offer to someone to replace Stephen Urgenson.  The two candidates are Bruce Labs of Piermont, New Hampshire, and Don Van Nostrand of Concord.  Ms. Leroux said after an offer is accepted and a final vetting process by the state Agency of Education is done an announcement will be made, probably by week’s end.

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War on Poverty: Fifty years later schools are the battleground

Lisa Grout is a social studies teacher at North Country Union High School in Newport.  She has a perspective on both poverty and how poverty affects student outcomes.  Photo by Richard Creaser

Lisa Grout is a social studies teacher at North Country Union High School in Newport. She has a perspective on both poverty and how poverty affects student outcomes. Photo by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle January 22, 2014

Editor’s note:  The following story is the first in a two-part series on the link between poverty and success in school.

by Richard Creaser

On January 8, 1964, President Lyndon Baines Johnson declared in his State of the Union Address an “all-out war on human poverty and unemployment in these United States.”

Fifty years later, the war rages on with the nation’s public schools as the battleground in this epic struggle.

“As a history teacher, I just can’t help but see that this isn’t anything new,” said Lisa Grout, a social studies teacher at North Country Union High School.  “At times, it has been described as a racial divide, but really it’s something else — it isn’t a war on poverty, it’s a war on the poor.  We need to rid ourselves of this myth that anyone can do whatever they want to do if they really want it.  Our system just isn’t balanced evenly that way.”

In fact, the system appears to be heavily weighted against students from poor families.

A direct link between low household income and student achievement is known in the educational system as the achievement gap.  The evidence is most readily appreciated by examining student performance on the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) scores as tabulated by the Vermont Agency of Education.  Agency data for the reporting period of 2011-2012 for North Country is especially telling, although it’s important to consider that NECAP tests are only administered to juniors at the high school level.

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