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Proctor community discusses viable options for high school

Since 1889 Proctor has supported a high school, but today Proctor wrestles with the question of whether or not the town can financially provide a quality secondary education for its students while enrollments decline and town businesses diminish.

To help sort out their options, Proctor School Board hired Prof. Raymond J. Proulx, Ed.D. to put together a few proposals the town should consider.

After many months of research and interviews, Thursday evening, February 8,  Dr. Proulx discussed his findings and outlined his proposals with the community. His findings were handed out in an 80-page report. Proulx emphasized that when reading through the report that one must think about the students first and ask whether they are getting the quality education that they deserve.

In his executive overview Dr. Proulx stated that his study reveals that "The status quo is not an option that will enable Proctor High School to attain the level of quality, equity and efficiency in the educational system that is desired… Proctor needs to be coupled with transformation of educational opportunities for students, delivery systems, access and use of technology and attracting tuition students."

Proulx's research led him to give the town four options to consider which are summarized below.

Option 1: Proctor and West Rutland form a unified union school district/regional education district (RED).

If this option was to be chosen it could take at least two years to implement. The Proctor Elementary School, High School and the West Rutland PK-12 would all remain open but with changes in curriculum at each of the secondary school levels. They would continue to provide extracurricular activities at both school sites with restructuring of what was offered and where. No new school construction or renovations would be needed at either site and this option would reduce school board expenses by $19,370. Some of the potential effects would be transportation costs and time for students on busses, the student body may be more diverse, the number of extracurricular offerings would expand and there would be only one school board.

Option 2: Joint contract school district.

This is where two or more schools districts may enter into a contract similar to a corporate agreement for operating one or more schools. Members from local school districts are elected to the Joint Contract Board and sit on the governance board. The Joint Board employs teachers, staff, sets programs and curriculum, sets budget and policies and more. This option offers greater opportunities and flexibility in what is sustained at the local school district level.

Option 3: Allow secondary school choice and realign Pre-K through grade 6 students within one or two Proctor facilities.

With this option Proctor would provide full choice for all secondary students (7-12) or it could designate another school such as Rutland High School, Otter Valley or Mill River to receive all secondary students. School choice would enable students and parents to select any public or approved independent high school they want to attend. Proctor must pay the allowable tuition rate established by the receiving school regardless if it is higher or lower than the average Vermont tuition rate. If a student still wants school choice even with a designated high school chosen then Proctor would be obligated to pay the average tuition rate for high school, or the actual tuition charged by the receiving school. Proctor is not responsible for paying any costs related to students who choose to attend secular schools.

Option 4: Designate all secondary students from Proctor to attend Rutland City Middle and High School (or other designated school.)

Option 4 has four alternatives altering the designated school and the tuition cost per pupil. The other three designated school options are Otter Valley High School, Mill River Union High School and West Rutland High School. Rutland City's tuition rate is $12,200, Otter Valley is $11,900, Mill River is $13, 011 and West Rutland's is $12,500.

This option would require a vote of the community to authorize the closing of the Proctor High School. Some of the assumptions in this option are that transportation would be provided for Proctor's secondary students, no new school construction will be needed in Rutland, built in expenses for keeping the high school facility heated and protected and Rutland would have to add staff to accommodate Proctor's secondary pupils. Potential effects include no vote on the Rutland school board, parent and community engagement in secondary school would be more distant, the student body would be more diverse, the number of extracurricular offerings would be greater but the competition would be more intense, Rutland offers four to six AP courses, and a designated school would allow all Proctor secondary pupils to stay in one location.

Community choice

Dr. Proulx emphasized many times throughout his forum that he doesn't favor any of these options more than the other and that is it up to the Proctor community and the School Board to continue to discuss them in the time to come.

Whether it is keeping the school as is, joining with another school or offering school choice Proctor is tasked to clearly define what the quality, equity and efficiency of education is best for the students and for the town.

For a copy of Dr Proulx's report detailing his findings call the Rutland Central Supervisory Union at 775-4342. Attend school board meetings to keep informed and to express your opinions. The next school board meeting is Feb. 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the elementary school.

Tagged: proctor place, proctor high school