Mount Anthony Union Middle School opened in approximately 2004. The tax bills were sent out to Woodford, North Bennington, Shaftsbury and Pownal. All replied, "Thanks, but no thanks. We never voted to send our sixth graders to your middle school." So a wing built for grade six for five districts has been used for only Bennington’s sixth graders for the last eight years. Perhaps some of the rooms are currently used for other things, but the fact remains there should be many available class rooms.
In 2007, the Catamount School was sold to Jack Appelman. After many public discussions and votes, the school went on the auction block. The community was told that the school census was dropping and that Catamount would no longer be efficient to maintain and we would save thousands of dollars over the next few years At the beginning of that school year, it became apparent that there was not room enough for the children in the three remaining elementary schools, Bennington Elementary, Monument and Molly Stark. Bennington School District rented space from Mr. Appelman in old Catamount School. So we built an addition on Bennington Elementary for the overflow.
An article appeared in the Bennington Banner stating that the Bennington School Board was investigating space or reallocation of students because Bennington Elementary School would not have enough room for the projected children for the next four years. Toward the end of that article, the reporter stated that one of the options being looked at was to tear down both Bennington Elementary School and Molly Stark School and build one big elementary school.
The point of this history lesson is this. Why can’t we help correct the blunder of building a wing on the Middle School for five districts when in fact only one district is using it? How about all the fifth graders in Bennington attend Mount Anthony middle school with their sixth grade Bennington brethren? The advantages would be great. School buses already pick up Middle School children throughout town. Teachers are already teaching fifth graders. Obviously with more students there would be more teachers, but they will have to be added no matter where they are housed. The cafeteria was built for full compliment of the sixth grade wing. The classrooms are state-of-the-art facilities. If memory serves me correctly, one of the concerns from parents was that the sixth graders would be exposed to more mature attitudes from the seventh and eighth graders. I would just like to point to Cambridge Central School and Hoosick Falls Central School who both house K-12 students. And once again, this is a separate wing of Mount Anthony Union Middle School.
So what do you think, Bennington School Board members and Bennington voters, would this work?