2018-01-10 / Ludlow

Ludlow and Mount Holly to vote on school merger again


LUDLOW — It seems that the decision on whether to merge the school systems at Mount Holly and Ludlow is not yet a done deal.

Ludlow Town Clerk Ulla Cook said someone had filed a petition to reconsider the vote. That means voters have to do it all over again, most likely sometime next month.

“I don’t know who filed the petition,” Cook said. “I have yet to get the ballot from the school.” Because this is a reconsideration, that means the intent and the wording on the ballot will be exactly the same.

Back in November, the towns of Ludlow and Mount Holly approved a merger proposal under which pre-kindergarten through 6th grade students would remain, but grades 7 through 12 would be tuitioned out to other schools. That means Black River would close no later than June 2020. Mount Holly would send its students to Mill River in North Clarendon, while Ludlow’s students would likely wind up at Green Mountain Union High School (GMUHS) in Chester.

Meanwhile, the Black River Independent School Committee (BRISC) is still active in its mission to turn Black River into an independent school. If that happened, the group would like to see it renamed as the Black River Academy. What is now the Black River Academy Museum (BRAM) was the current high school’s predecessor.

Responding to an email inquiry, BRISC spokeswoman Uli Donohue said they were pleased with the vote in November.

“I want to clarify that we did not initiate the petition,” she wrote. “We were very happy with the outcome of the first vote and it is our hope that the second vote will be a repeat of the first with a solid 'yes' result. Other members of the community felt there was too much confusion around the first vote and wanted to repeat it.”

Donohue said the group would be calling itself “Black River Academy,” and is working on plans to get their message out.

“Despite the revote,” she wrote, “we are proceeding with our plans as we believe this is the best option for the towns. We are currently working on information for the website, opening a bank account, and developing a strategic plan for the new school as well as a budget.”

Full information on the Black River Academy efforts and BRISC can be found at http://blackriveracademy.org.

The group has also set up a crowdfunding page at GoFundMe and has raised more than $1,500 of their $3,000 goal. It can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/blackriverindependentschool.

The group also holds weekly meetings every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at either the Black River High School Library or the Ludlow Elementary school library.

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