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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Examining the crossroads of bullying and social media

Irasburg Village School students wore blue to take part in “Stomp Out Bullying,” on October 7.  October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month.  To signify its importance, STOMP Out Bullying created Blue Shirt Day, which is the World Day of Bullying Prevention.  Pictured, sitting in the front row, from left to right, are:  Mia Moore, Harley McCormick, Holden Lefebvre, Brody McDonald, Chase Monfette, Owen Brochu, Hutch Moore, and Dominick Daigle.  Sitting in the back row are:  Katelyn Turgeon, Abby Mcdonald, Sam Fecher, Thomas Annis, Ava Carbonneau, Joey Annis, Ryan Moulton, Seth Moulton, Tyson Horn, Hunter Baraw, Cy Boomer, and Zachary Rooney.  Standing in the front row are:  Dominick Fontaine, Bronson Smith, Logan Verge, Freddie Moore, Tyler Goodridge, Wyatt Gile, Rosie Fecher, Abigail Moore, Nicole LaFratta, Madison Berry, Mckenna Cartee, and Isaiah Brochu.  In the next row are:  Alyssa Butler, Byanna Palmer, Nicole Parrish, Hunter McElroy, Peyton Lackie, Garrett Labounty, Tyler Young, Keira Butler, Kaylee Jewer, Harlee Miller, Nicole Dutton, Mercedez Hodgdon, Dakota Jones, Taylor Schneider, and Michael Kittredge.  In the next row are:  Beverley Hall, Tyler Jewer, Dillon Stebbins, Josh Cole, Dinah Daigle, Glen Cartee, Drew Drageset, Connor Lanou, Dawson Stebbins, Emma Downs, Denise Goodridge, Seraphina Fecher, Abigail Bromley, and Sarah Cousino.  In the last row are:  Desiree Ouellet, Tucker Wilson, Jordan Fecher, Kiara Hodge, Brendan Dutton, Cody Lanou, Garrett Gile, Jacob Young, Nick Young, Maureen Currier, Emily Wells, and Francis Annis.  Photo courtesy of Paul Simmons

Irasburg Village School students wore blue to take part in “Stomp Out Bullying,” on October 7. October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. To signify its importance, STOMP Out Bullying created Blue Shirt Day, which is the World Day of Bullying Prevention. Pictured, sitting in the front row, from left to right, are: Mia Moore, Harley McCormick, Holden Lefebvre, Brody McDonald, Chase Monfette, Owen Brochu, Hutch Moore, and Dominick Daigle. Sitting in the back row are: Katelyn Turgeon, Abby Mcdonald, Sam Fecher, Thomas Annis, Ava Carbonneau, Joey Annis, Ryan Moulton, Seth Moulton, Tyson Horn, Hunter Baraw, Cy Boomer, and Zachary Rooney. Standing in the front row are: Dominick Fontaine, Bronson Smith, Logan Verge, Freddie Moore, Tyler Goodridge, Wyatt Gile, Rosie Fecher, Abigail Moore, Nicole LaFratta, Madison Berry, Mckenna Cartee, and Isaiah Brochu. In the next row are: Alyssa Butler, Byanna Palmer, Nicole Parrish, Hunter McElroy, Peyton Lackie, Garrett Labounty, Tyler Young, Keira Butler, Kaylee Jewer, Harlee Miller, Nicole Dutton, Mercedez Hodgdon, Dakota Jones, Taylor Schneider, and Michael Kittredge. In the next row are: Beverley Hall, Tyler Jewer, Dillon Stebbins, Josh Cole, Dinah Daigle, Glen Cartee, Drew Drageset, Connor Lanou, Dawson Stebbins, Emma Downs, Denise Goodridge, Seraphina Fecher, Abigail Bromley, and Sarah Cousino. In the last row are: Desiree Ouellet, Tucker Wilson, Jordan Fecher, Kiara Hodge, Brendan Dutton, Cody Lanou, Garrett Gile, Jacob Young, Nick Young, Maureen Currier, Emily Wells, and Francis Annis. Photo courtesy of Paul Simmons

by Natalie Hormilla

“I wish that I could put a scrambler over my building that would not allow any airwaves to come in and out during the day,” said Lake Region Union High School Principal Andre Messier. 

He made that comment during a phone interview Monday on the topic of cyber bullying.

Sometimes cyber bullying happens only online — as in a “comments fight,” or nasty e-mails — and sometimes there’s an instance of a real incident continuing to live online.

Such was the case recently when an argument between students at the Orleans Elementary School was posted online.

The incident occurred while students were on the way home from school and involved a group of middle schoolers and at least one younger student. 

What most agree was basically an argument between kids generated much attention because videos of it were posted online, and it appeared to some that a young black girl was targeted by an older white boy.

Orleans Elementary School Principal Kim Hastings conducted an investigation into the argument, which took place off school grounds last month, she said in a phone interview Monday.

“It was a just a verbal fight amongst middle school kids,” Ms. Hastings said.  “There were inappropriate things said all around by the kids, and what happens is that they all got mad.”

Social media has exacerbated bullying, Mr. Messier said. 

He has been an educator for 22 years, so he’s been on the front line of handling social media issues with students as they have become more prevalent and more complex.

“Back in our day, it was passing notes and throwing them in people’s lockers…now everything is so immediate and so much out into the world,” Mr. Messier said.  “You know, you post something and it’s not just that one person you’ve written this note to, it’s public.”

Because of the public nature of the Orleans incident, many people learned about the fight, which some did consider to be a case of bullying.

At least one of the students recorded two videos of the incident and posted them on Facebook.  Then an account of the story appeared in a local newspaper. Continue reading

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