Town purchases Mountain School building from school board for $875,000


WINHALL — Residents voted to approve the purchase of The Mountain School of Winhall (MSW) and withdrawal from the Windham Solid Waste Management District on Aug. 9.

The school building transaction is valued at $875,000 and resulted from legislation Act 46 that was enacted last year to make operations more efficient with Vermont educational spending. There was a push to sell the building before forming a consolidated school district with representatives from Stratton, Sandgate and Searsburg, because the sale would had to have been divided, according to a July 20 Journal article.

The vote for purchase tallied to 174 in favor and 15 against with one blank vote.

It was owned by the school board, sold to the town, and MSW wishes to acquire it.

With the approval of the purchase, the lump sum will be paid in annual installments of $79,146 over a 12-year period with a $25,000 deposit at the closing. The building's current appraisal is valued at $524,000, according to the town's records, and it sits on 8.5 acres of land, assessed at $180,000, owned by the town.

The town also no longer holds membership with the Windham Solid Waste Management District.

One-hundred and four voters agreed with withdrawing and nine disagreed. There were three blank votes.

The Mountain School is 16 years old, but has a tradition that dates back to the 1770's when New England towns were establishing school systems "to prepare the nation's future leaders," according to its website. It essentially became a public school with a private mission being dubbed the "Town Academy" model. In 1998, the public school was closed and an independent community day school was opened.

However, that school year it had the highest per-pupil spending in the state, but at a low performance rate.

On Town Meeting Day, March 3, 1998, voters elected to close the Winhall Elementary School and the MSW was opened to serve Stratton and Winhall, making it the 22nd "Town Academy" in the U.S. It was the first to enroll Pre-K through eighth grade.

Over 70 students from nine towns now pay tuition to attend MSW.

Money from the purchase of the school will go toward alleviating the town's school tax rate, which is a little less than $1.73 per $100 of assessed property value, Martin Nadler, chairman of Winhall school board told the Journal in July.

The school is also looking into to purchase the acreage the school sits on to allow for flexibility in future expansions or new instructional programming.

Contact Makayla-Courtney McGeeney at (802)-490-6471.


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