WHEELOCK - Unified School District #37 services the towns of Wheelock and Sheffield and includes the Miller's Run School. On Town Meeting Day, both towns rejected the district's budget for the coming year, leaving UD #37 in quite the predicament.
On Wednesday night, residents from both towns gathered to talk about where the district goes now. Several Wheelock residents have suggested that the town should withdraw from the district. Withdrawal would leave Wheelock residents with school choice - Miller's Run School or Lyndon Town School. The assumption is that, given school choice, most Wheelock residents would send their kids to Lyndon. That would cripple Miller's Run.
"It would be very probably that Sheffield would have to close the school if Wheelock left," said Tom Petit, the business manager of Caledonia North Supervisory Union. "They just don't have the critical mass to keep a school like this going."
A mass exodus of Wheelock students to LTS could do some damage to the Lyndon school, also.
"Lyndon Town School could be absolutely full the year after Wheelock closes its school," said Martin Holladay, a Wheelock resident. "And then where will they go? I'm just saying, we went to a lot of trouble and expense to build a new facility."
Residents from both towns had their own reasons for rejecting the school budget, but Petit believes that repairs to the school's roof were a major contributing factor.
"It's a lot of money," Petit said. "It's hard for people to understand how much it costs for such a huge roof."
One Sheffield resident brought up ways that the rebuilt roof could work to the school's advantage.
"I think that you have the perfect angle for solar," Foster said. "It may, actually, in the long run, pay off in another way."
Wednesday's meeting didn't solve any of the problems currently facing both towns, and it certainly didn't shed any light on where the towns of Wheelock and Sheffield will go from here. The board's next meeting is scheduled for April 9 at 5:30, and a vote for a new budget is scheduled for April 24. What that budget will look like is still anybody's guess.