Wednesday, March 28, 2018

For More Information 

If you would like to learn more about the details of the merger, the links below can help you find information and updates from each committee.

Subcommittee Instructions -

Committee Minutes and Summaries -

Merger Calendar - 

Merger "Matrix" - 

The matrix is our communication tool for the Steering Committee to follow all merger work, post brief updates, and ask questions.      


High School Course Selection Begins

It will be an exciting few weeks for the new White River Valley High School, as students begin the
process of selecting courses for the first time. Teachers have spent the last two months developing
and fine-tuning the curriculum and will present next year’s offerings to all high school students, who
will gather in Royalton later this month.

The course selection process gets underway in advisory groups, where students will review
graduation requirements with their teacher advisors and create a four year plan for their studies.
These plans will consider each student’s interests as well as their hopes and goals for after
graduation. Whitcomb and South Royalton High School currently have different graduation
requirements, so new requirements have been developed for our merged school. Students who are
in grades 9-11 this year will have the option of following their current school’s graduation
requirements or using the White River Valley High School guidelines. Future high school students
(current 8th graders and younger) will follow the graduation requirements of our merged school.

When students gather in Royalton, they will listen to presentations from each department in the
high school, from math and social studies to art and music. In addition to explaining what students
can expect in specific courses, teachers will lay out potential pathways to help in the course
selection process. For example, students who are interested in a career in nursing will see a
recommended course load to help them pursue this career path. After listening to each
department’s offerings, students will make their preliminary course selections. Each student will be
sent home with a copy of the course descriptions and their own class choices. Students will be
expected to discuss and review these with their families and have parents sign off on their
selections. Once student choices have been received, the process of building a final master
schedule will begin, with individual student schedules to follow.

If you or your student have any questions about the course selection process, please do not
hesitate to contact their school guidance counselor or teacher advisor.


Bethel and Royalton students and community members are invited to submit a design
for the WRVS Logo Contest. The design should be no more than 10” x 10” and should
incorporate the name and/or mascot. All entries need to be camera ready (2 colors--
green and gold--with clean lines). Students and community members should put their
full name ONLY on the BACK of all entries.
Please submit entries to

Mrs. Melanson in Royalton or Mr. Bradley in Bethel by March 20th.

We Have A Budget!

Voters from Bethel and Royalton convened in the Bethel gym Tuesday night and approved the
budget for the upcoming year by a vote of 119-49. This first annual meeting of the district was a
big milestone, and it was great to see our two towns come together to take the important step of
approving the budget for next year. We would like to thank everybody for coming out, asking
questions, and taking part in the democratic process. Also, special thanks to Girl Scout Troop
#48 for organizing the delicious Crock Pot Dinner prior to the meeting, and to the
Bethel/Whitcomb PTO for providing child care during the meeting.

Now that there is an approved budget, and everybody has returned from vacation, work is
picking up again to get everything ready for next year. Stay tuned for next week’s newsletter,
which will detail the next steps in our merger process. If you have any questions about the
merger, feel free to email us at

In the meantime, come out to the Community Thaw event Friday March 9th from 5:30 to 8:00 on
the Royalton green. This is an opportunity for people from both communities to get together in a
more social atmosphere. There will be a campfire, complimentary pizza, coffee, cocoa, popcorn,
games, and an open mic for aspiring musicians. We will have a table there with people
available to answer questions about the merger.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

White River Valley School District Budget Update
On Tuesday, March 6th, residents of both Bethel and Royalton will vote on the first budget for our merged school system, the White River Valley School District. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Town Meeting Day in the Bethel School Gym and voting will take place from the floor.

 A copy of the budget is available in Town Reports as well as on and   on facebook in the open group, “Welcome To Our Merger - White River Valley School   District.”

 Highlights from the budget include:

  • Funding that maintains roles for all current teaching staff
  • Additional teaching positions: middle school math and English, flexible pathways, tech. ed, elementary outdoor education, world languages, and health
  • Science and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) lab renovations for the middle and high school
  • Middle and high school robotics  
  • Instrument upgrades for the music program at both schools
  • Additional professional development funds to focus on math, literacy, and behavior support
  • Facilities upgrades in both buildings, including: renovating Royalton’s library, soundproofing Royalton’s cafeteria, improving Bethel’s heating system, and renovating Bethel’s greenhouse
  • Computer network infrastructure upgrades at both school buildings
 Although final tax rates are not set by the State until after budgets are adopted by all   Vermont communities, our current projections are that Bethel’s equalized tax rate will be     $1.62 per $100 of property and Royalton’s equalized rate will be $1.52 per $100 of   property.

 Factors that influence each town’s tax rate this year include Act 46 tax incentives,   measures of local real estate value (known as the CLA), higher than expected base tax   rates set by the State, and lower than expected enrollment. In addition, spending was   temporarily increased this year for one-time expenses such as building maintenance in   order to take advantage of an Act 46 rule that provides a substantial amount of extra   money for our school.

 The new school board of the White River Valley School District will present the budget and   take questions prior to the vote on March 6th. Please note that the current boards are still   required by law to hold annual meetings but no major business will be transacted at these   times.
                     In order to vote on next year’s school budget, registered voters
from Bethel and Royalton must be
present at the White River Valley School District Meeting
being held in the Bethel school gym at 6 p.m. on

Tuesday, March 6th. We hope to see you there!

Monday, February 19, 2018

How a Merger Happens

Merging school districts is an incredibly complex job but students, teachers, and administrators
have been hard at work creating the new White River Valley Unified District.

Committees are meeting regularly to focus on topics such as curriculum, scheduling,
transportation, student voice, community engagement, and co-curricular activities. Each
committee includes an administrator and teachers from both Bethel and Royalton. Students,
members of the board, and community members also serve on a number of committees.

To oversee this process, a steering committee made of board members, SU staff, principals,
teachers, and students meets frequently. Their job is to put together the many merger “puzzle
pieces” by monitoring the progress of the subcommittees, providing feedback when necessary,
and facilitating communication between the subcommittees. You can find a diagram of the
committee structure below.

In addition to the hard work being undertaken by committee members, faculty from both
schools have begun meeting regularly to share information and plan our new programs. At the
high school level, work is focused on selecting and designing courses. Middle school staff is
working with the Tarrant Institute to design an innovative 6th through 8th grade program.
Elementary teachers are focused on sharing the best practices and unique approaches at each

At this stage in the process, a great deal of work is ongoing but final decisions about programs
have not been made. Committees will continue their work over the next several months to fill in
all the details needed to get the schools ready for the transition this fall. Watch for this
newsletter to keep up to date on the work being done!