Letter: Approve the merger plan with Pawlet

For over 70 years the towns of Rupert and Salem, N.Y., have enjoyed an exchange, not only of Vermont students going to the New York high school, but also of shared living experiences; of academic activities, of sporting events, picnics, and potluck suppers that have sustained the two communities in a shared culture. We have watched generations of our children as they have learned, grown and developed into caring and responsible adults, and many have, in turn, sent their own children through a similar process. Borders do exist on maps and official documents, but they can also be transcended and dissolved over many years by experiences that have their foundations in a real and unspoken tradition of sharing and mutual concern.

There are numerous other reasons, based on our historic relationship, why the transition to the new merger plan that the state of Vermont is asking us all to adopt and adapt to is painful to many Rupert residents. The culture that has existed here for all these years is being challenged by plans and expectations on the part of the Vt. Legislature that are in fact, legitimate and well founded requirements.

The intentions on behalf of the state that have lead to the current requirements will create greater fairness and equanimity for all Vermont students and their families.

It is a sad truth that families in Rupert who, for a variety of reasons, have desired to send their children to alternative schools, have currently and historically had far less financial support than would be available to any other Vermont citizen living in any other Vermont town or city.

It is clear that a change to the existing scenario is overdue; not merely because the state says so, but because it is the right and fair approach.

The tax and cost advantages that Rupert residents have benefited from over many years have ultimately been at the expense of their fellow citizens on both sides of the border, and it is time for that situation to change. The resulting tax increase will not drive any one who currently lives here to leave- it will be an income sensitive change and not an unreasonable or unreachable burden.

Even with the understandable resistance, this change will ultimately be to everyone's advantage.

It is critical that the residents of our town approve the upcoming merger vote. A YES vote would still allow an individual family to continue sending a secondary school age child to Salem. A NO vote and rejection of the merger will most likely guarantee that after the 2 year window of stasis closes in 2019, Rupert kids will have no free access to attending a New York state high school, and all will be decided upon by a state board.

If our dairy farmers do not respond to changes in their industry and modernize their equipment and methods., they become less competitive.

If our road crew does not have a clean, warm and up-to-date facility in which to maintain their equipment, it is more difficult and dangerous for them to keep our roads and the towns infrastructure in good working order. Our town clerk uses a computer, and while not as elegant as a feather quill or a fountain pen, it does allows us to stay in touch with our neighboring towns and the "modern world" — and by allowing us to continue to be connected it can sometimes help us to find better solutions for our town's needs.

Similarly, our schools and our children's access to education.

Approving the upcoming merger will insure that our young people, who truly are the future, have the broadest and most practical access to educational choice and competitive advantage. A yes vote will allow those for whom the Salem school has been, and still is "home." to continue that relationship.

We encourage our fellow towns people to take smart and inclusive action by voting to approve the merger plan with Pawlet this coming November.

Michael Krauss and Jackie Haft

West Rupert


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