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What does the future of education in Slate Valley look like?

Together, we stand poised at an important crossroads concerning the educational future of our schools and communities.

The decision we face is not simply about repairing or upgrading our core infrastructure. It’s about the best way to create the next generation of schools here in Slate Valley - schools that will ensure our capacity to continue to offer high-quality educational programs to our children.

Achieving this goal means nothing less than ensuring the long-term health and vibrancy of our local communities by continuing to provide educational programs of which we can be justifiably proud, modern facilities that support instructional programs that will attract families to come and raise their children here in Slate Valley.

This decision is about ensuring educational excellence and maintaining a stable tax base to fund those institutions.

On this page, you will find a wealth of resources to provide insight into how this conversation has evolved since the fall of 2018.

DISTRICT VISION
All students are engaged in rigorous, authentic, experiential, individualized learning that is supported or accelerated to ensure that they meet or exceed standards. Read our complete Vision/Mission statement.
BACKGROUND

The Slate Valley Unified Union School Board established a committee consisting of board members, staff, and community members to develop a plan that would expand educational opportunities for students and help address the financial burden of growing deferred maintenance needs.

Between October of 2018 and August of 2019, this committee explored the challenges facing our district and formed a report with several different options for the consideration of the board. On October 14, 2019, the Slate Valley Unified Union School Board voted to move forward with the full scope of the project. As a result of this decision, the district has moved towards a bond vote for the spring of 2020. 

BOND ARTICLE

Shall general obligation bonds or notes of Slate Valley Unified Union School District in an amount not to exceed Fifty-nine Million, Five-Hundred Thousand Dollars ($59,500,000) be issued for the purpose of financing the cost of making certain public school building improvements, namely, (1) Renovation and repairs to the Fair Haven Union High School building and grounds, (2) Construction of the Slate Valley Middle School adjacent to the Fair Haven Union High School, (3) Construction, renovation and repairs to Orwell Village School, and (4) an elevator system for Fair Haven Grade School the aggregate cost of such improvements estimated to be Fifty-nine Million, Five-Hundred Thousand Dollars ($59,500,000)?

State funds may not be available at the time these projects are otherwise eligible to receive state school construction aid. The District is responsible for all costs incurred in connection with any borrowing done in anticipation of the receipt of school construction aid.

BOND
  • 1 Question: “An Amount not to Exceed $59,500,000”
  • 30 years, current rate 3.13%

3 Lenders:

  • People’s United Bank - Bond Anticipation Note
  • Vermont Municipal Bond Bank - Bonds
  • US Department of Agriculture Rural Development - Loan

4 Bond Sales/Loan:

  • Winter of 2021 - $15,000,000
  • Summer of 2021 - $20,000,000
  • Winter of 2022 - $16,000,000
  • Summer of 2022 - $ 8,500,000
ESTIMATED BOND COSTS
Fiscal YearInterest PaymentsPrincipal PaymentsCombined Principal & Interest Payments
2021NoneNone0
2022$922,0000$922,000
2023$1,167,000$2,773,000$3,940,000
2024$1,983,000$3,503,000$5,486,000
2025$1,983,000$3479,000$5,462,000

Estimates are based on the proposed FY21 budget, using the yield recommended by the Tax Commissioner in December 2019.

If the FY21 proposed budget is decreased conservatively for efficiencies to be realized by operating one middle school and increased for the highest estimated annual principal and interest payments (FY24):

  • A taxpayer with a $100,000 home will pay additional taxes annually of $265, or
  • A taxpayer with a household income of $50,000 will pay additional taxes annually of $50.

OVERVIEW

View the video here. View the PDF here

Infrastructure

Like many districts throughout the state, the schools in our district have facilities issues that need to be addressed. These issues require the need to repair or replace core infrastructure and will need to be addressed with or without a bond. 

High School

  • Address code/safety issues
  • Address infrastructure needs
  • Renovate existing facility

Middle School

  • Construct an integrated, but autonomous middle school facility on the existing high school site. 

FHUHS/MS Site Plan

  • Total Project Budget FHUHS/MS: $52,233,781

Educational Opportunities

Slate Valley has clearly defined educational goals and initiatives designed to meet the current and emerging needs of our students. The schools in our district require renovation and/or the addition of instructional areas in order to fully achieve our district mission/vision.

Maintaining a quality school system in our district is essential to the long-term vitality of our communities and is the best way to protect the property values of homeowners across the district. 

As enrollment across our elementary schools has declined, meeting the educational needs of middle school students has become increasingly challenging and expensive.

The creation of a district middle school would create a critical mass of students needed to provide the full range of programs typically offered to middle school students in Vermont - e.g. foreign languages, science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.

Duplicating middle school programs to small numbers of students across our current elementary schools is expensive. It also limits the educational programs we can offer. 

A district middle school would enhance educational opportunity and better utilize existing resources. This would result in a more cost effective use of taxpayer dollars.

An integrated, but autonomous middle school located at the current high school facility would result in greater long-term, operational efficiency (space utilization, staffing, and field space) and a more cost-effective renovation plan to address district-wide facilities needs.

Locating a middle school at the high school would provide students with additional opportunities for academic acceleration as well as access to extra-curricular, co-curricular programs, and enriched support services.

Fair Haven Grade School
  • Elevator System

Total Project Budget: $842,066

Orwell

Specifications for the Orwell portion of the project were established in collaboration with the Orwell Town Hall Committee.

  • Address code/safety issues
  • Address infrastructure needs
  • Gym/cafeteria addition
  • Biomass

Orwell Total Project Budget: $6,068,312
Orwell Town Hall Removal & Parking: $355,829*

*No decisions have been made about the Orwell Town Hall at this time. 

Energy Efficiency
  • LED lighting
  • Biomass heating
  • Windows
  • HVAC replacement
Arts

For the Arts, the creation of new space would provide an opportunity for flexibility in teaching middle and high school classes.

  • Instructional space (music, theater, dance)
  • Practice areas
  • Exhibition/presentation space
  • Flexible seating (multiple use configurations)
  • Increased instructional opportunities
  • Improved audience experience
  • Community gathering space
Athletics

Middle School

  • Basketball Court
  • Additional Instructional/Athletics/Practice Space
  • Separate Middle School Locker Rooms
  • Additional Storage Space
  • Additional Field Space & Parking

Participation Fall: 136 | Winter: 172 | Spring: 103 (estimated)

High School

  • Upgraded athletic locker and team rooms
  • Turf LaPlaca Field (increased use, extended season)
  • Additional instructional/athletics/practice space
  • Additional field space and parking

Participation Fall: 131 | Winter: 113 | Spring: 107