Economic development strategy
The Bennington Select Board and the local school system are collaborating for improved service to residents.
With the local economic development plan in place for only four months, a number of strategies outlined in the plan have already begun to take on significant momentum. One strategy in particular has gained traction and has included a noteworthy amount of collaboration. This is the work that has been done between the local school systems and the town’s legislative body.
With two meetings already concluded, and another scheduled for late September, members from the Mount Anthony Union (MAU), the Career Development Center (CDC), the Bennington School District (BSD) school boards and the Southwestern Vermont Supervisory Union (SVSU), have met with members of Bennington’s town government to take on the challenge of a more collaborative relationship. The goal - develop ways that the town and schools can more effectively and efficiently utilize resources that will improve public communication, assist in budget planning processes, and quickly respond to the needs of the community.
Looking to the future this group has committed sharing information to aid budget development in order to contain costs and limit the impact on the taxpayer. In addition to this, it was agreed that school and town officials would meet in October to discuss budget needs and priorities for their respective entities.
The hope is that this effort, coupled with regular meetings, will lead to an overall strategy for successful cooperation.
Research has shown that every good economy begins with education, and Bennington is no different. As we look to bring in new professionals, retain current businesses and recruit new opportunities, our priority must be to support our local schools so that they can produce highly articulate and dependable graduates, who can be successful in any type of business environment. New initiatives locally, along with the state’s common core standards are designed to improve the overall student experience, while providing schools a more comprehensive way of measuring success.
As our local schools look to implement this 21st century initiative, we must also look to the community, neighborhoods, and homes our students grow up in, and begin the conversation of how to lift up our young people to a place of achievement and success. Whenever possible, working together to combat poverty, create safe neighborhoods and challenge the status quo.
The education of its children is the community’s most important responsibility, and it is a responsibility that must be shared by all to achieve the best result. It is also imperative to the overall economic health of the community, and the Select Board and local school boards are committed to working together to meet that responsibility.
This column was written by Michael Harrington, economic and community development director for the Town of Bennington, in conjunction with members from the participating organizations. This column is the first in a series by this group.
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