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!