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Towns to vote on future of Black River High School - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Towns to vote on future of Black River High School

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LUDLOW, Vt. -

Students at Black River High School gather in a room to watch their classmate's assignment. The video is about Act 46 and the impact it has on their school of 151 students.

"I think the intent of this is to really give people a sense of knowing and, like, what is this? What does it mean for us?" said Bailey Mattson, a senior.

Enrollment at the school has been declining steadily in the last decade. It dropped 8 percent just last year. Officials say they don't have adequate funding to operate the school and could potentially face penalties from the state under Act 46.

"There are certain things that we are unable to provide: a real in-depth course program or band and music because we just don't have the students that are involved in it," said Bruce Schmidt of the Ludlow School Board.

In May, town residents will decide whether to keep the school open or shut it down. If it shuts down, students would transfer to Mill River Union High School in North Clarendon.

"I would love to keep Black River open," Schmidt said. "But I need to look at my position as school board chair at what is best for the kids, what is going to be the opportunities that we can provide for the kids, as well as what will be affordable for the taxpayers and the town of Ludlow."

Colin McKaig has been teaching at Black River for 26 years. He's one of about 40 staff and faculty members whose jobs are at stake. He says the school is worth saving.

"It really is about the students," McKaig said. "It's about trying to maintain and keep the opportunities that we do have, this really tight-knit, extraordinary group of people together and moving forward."

"I hope that this act doesn't break the town apart and the community apart because it would be very tragic to see this as a very tourist town," Mattson said.

Ludlow and Mount Holly residents will vote May 30.

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