Rivendell Community Letter - 3 year budget proposal

Rivendell Community Letter

Dear Rivendell Community,

We would like to thank all those who participated in the community forums. We have considered your feedback and share your desire for a future in which our students, schools, and communities can all thrive. We want all of you to know our next steps as we navigate the future of Rivendell. The strategic 3-year plan laid out here will move us towards long-term financial sustainability while also improving the quality of education for our children.

At our monthly meeting on November 14, the board voted 6-2 (2 were absent) to move forward with the following 3-year budget proposal  presented to us by the administrative team:

FY 25 (2024-25 school year)

  *   Maintain current staffing levels in classrooms.
  *   Cut $200,000 from other parts of the budget.
  *   Apply $600,000 of surplus funds to tax relief.
  *   Support teacher training for multi-age classrooms.
  *   Plan renovations.

FY 26 (2025-26 school year)

  *   Transition to multi-age classrooms in the elementary schools.
  *   Renovate lower building at Rivendell Academy.
  *   Plan transition of Samuel Morey Elementary school community to Rivendell Academy.

FY 27 (2026-27 school year)

  *   Transition SME school community to the lower building at Rivendell Academy.
  *   Repurpose or sell the SME property.

While we recognize that the decision to close a school building was hard and not unanimous, we feel that it is worthy of serious consideration. The choice of keeping Westshire open and moving Samuel Morey students and teachers to the Academy found support at the community forums and reflects Rivendell's founding principle of community connection.

When residents of our four towns voted to form Rivendell, they did so with the understanding that young children would be able to attend a school close to home. This plan allows the continuation of that promise. It also takes into consideration the condition and locations of Rivendell's school buildings. Samuel Morey is the oldest building and occupies a prime piece of land in the village of Fairlee. A final factor is Vermont law regarding repayment of school construction aid. Both Westshire and the upper building at Rivendell Academy were built with aid from the State of Vermont. If we were to sell one of these buildings, a portion of the construction cost would likely need to be returned.

We acknowledge that there is much we don't yet know that could impact our ultimate decisions. We want to move immediately to form committees to study how to best implement the proposed changes. If you are interested in serving on one of these committees, please let us know by filling out this survey.

We hope that you will share our excitement about the future of Rivendell. This three-year financial plan allows us to focus on what we do best and move forward with new ideas that are already emerging from the strategic planning process.

If you have any questions or comments, please send them to BudgetQuestions@rivendellschool.org

Or mail to: Rivendell School Board, PO Box 271, Orford, NH  03777

Rivendell School Board

Kathy Hooke, Chair

David Ricker, Vice Chair

Sara Day, At-Large

Vanessa DeSimone

David Gagner

Jason Knowles

Sarah Molesworth
West Fairlee

Clem Powers

Nate Thames

Rebecca Wurdak
West Fairlee

Terry Martin