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green mountain college closure
Castleton University to take over Killington School of Resort Management

KILLINGTON — Castleton University will take over the Killington School of Resort Management this fall, according to a Friday announcement.

For the past 18 years, Green Mountain College has worked with Killington and Pico to cultivate a three-year bachelor’s degree program in the fields of hospitality and business.

The program was started in 2001 and directed by GMC professor of business and economics Frank Pauzé, but GMC President Bob Allen announced last month that the Poultney college would close at the end of the spring semester, so Castleton decided to take up the mantle and keep the program alive.

“While we’re sad to see our relationship with Green Mountain College end, we’re happy to have Castleton University step up and open their doors to GMC students,” said Mike Solimano, president and general manager of Killington Resort and Pico Mountain. “We’re thrilled to have Castleton as a partner in our new version of our innovative and truly unique B.S. degree in Resort and Hospitality Management.

Solimano said, “Like GMC’s program, Castleton plans to incorporate practical experience in the resort industry. Currently, 35 alumni of the GMC program work at Killington, and we hope to see that number grow with the inception of CU’s new program.”

More than 90 percent of the participants complete their bachelor’s degree in hotel and resort management and 99 percent of the students who graduate end up working in the hospitality industry, according to a statement released by the Killington school.

“It seemed to make sense from our end,” said Courtney DiFiore, communications and public relations specialist for Killington Resort. “We’ve had a good relationship with them in the past, they’re close by ... it made sense to align with them.”

The new partnership will bring some changes, DiFiore said, but any alterations are still being finalized and though Killington is not planning to create any new programs, the school would consider expanding if participation grows.

“We would like it to grow, if that’s something that can happen,” DiFiore said. “Overall the idea and the way it’s designed will be similar ... hands-on learning.”

“Castleton University and Killington have a long-standing and strong partnership,” said Castleton University President Dr. Karen Scolforo.

Scolforo said the school has submitted a request for approval from the New England Commission on Higher Education to offer a 3-year bachelor of science degree in resort and hospitality management.

“That program is delivered in a cooperative learning model,” Scolforo said.

Students will be able to take classes at Killington and have the opportunity to interview for positions there while earning their degree, serving in salaried positions while gaining workplace experience, Scolforo said.

“We’re anticipating that approximately 20 students will transfer into our program in the fall,” Scolforo said. “The capacity is around 70.”

Scolforo said the school will continue to seek student housing on the mountain, so students don’t have to travel from the Castleton campus to take part in the new program.

And that’s not the only housing developments Castleton has made: In anticipation of GMC students from other programs transferring to Castleton University, Scolforo said, the school has set aside housing especially for them.

“We’ve heard from approximately 25 students who have expressed an interest in transferring so far,” Scolforo said.

The university is meeting as well with program and department heads at GMC to work out pathways for GMC students to transfer.

“We are anticipating being beyond capacity in the fall,” Scolforo said. “We have a lot of partners in the community that are willing to work with us.”

Scolforo said Castleton never intended to merge with GMC or use the campus as a satellite program, but there are a number of faculty members on the campus that Castleton is “very interested in speaking with.”

“In this environment in higher education, we’re limited to some of the things we can do,” Scolforo said. “I do think we’ll be able to serve a large number of students at Green Mountain.”

Scolforo said overall student body growth is up 3 percent at Castleton.

“We have 48 full-time equivalents more than we had last spring,” Scolforo said. “That’s exciting.”

The growth is attributed to the development of new programs, initiatives and partnerships in and out of state, she said.

“We’ve done a lot of work with spotlighting our students and our faculty,” Scolforo said. “And how special the student experience is at Castleton University ... (My prediction is) we’ll be becoming more of a destination school.”


rlayman / Robert Layman / Staff Photo  

his name on the wall

Camden Buzzell, first-grader at Neshobe School, proudly points to his name tag beneath his most recent untitled picture, of a face, complete with googly eyes, twigs, pine cones and yarn. Buzzell was among the many students from the Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union who had artwork on display for the opening reception at the Brandon Artists Guild Friday night in Brandon. The guild annually hosts students work in February.

rlayman / Robert Layman / Staff Photo  

the frozen world

A squirrel peers over large ice chunks Friday afternoon, perhaps looking for an acorn it buried last year before the landscape was covered in ice leftover from last week’s flooding in Clarendon.

Planned Parenthood support
New bill introduced to help Planned Parenthood

A new House bill would create a fund to support Planned Parenthood centers around the state with an excise tax on all erectile dysfunction medications, according to Rep. Michael Mrowicki, D-Putney.

“This is the second time its been introduced,” Mrowicki said. “Our concerns are what is happening in Washington D.C., with women’s health care. We want women to know we’re going to back them and be there for them.”

Mrowicki said the idea for the bill was inspired by his family — his two adult daughters and his wife, all of whom have cultivated a healthy relationship with Planned Parenthood.

The fund would create a financial pool directly benefiting all family planning and women’s reproductive health centers.

The decision to tax erectile dysfunction medication was a no-brainer, he said.

“Why not go to the source?” Mrowicki said.

Legally, Mrowicki said, medicines can’t be taxed, which is why an excise tax would work.

“Hopefully it raises awareness,” Mrowicki said. “Family planning is an essential part to being successful. Working with people in generational poverty, that’s one of the challenges.

If these services are threatened, we want to make sure women know it’s available to them.”

Mrowicki said he always has confidence in the bills he introduces, but with a part-time Legislature there’s no guaranteeing a bill can be passed ahead of moves to restrict access to health care centers by the federal government.

Even if it did pass, it wouldn’t directly benefit Planned Parenthood, according to Lucy Leriche, vice president of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

“We really deeply appreciate his support,” Leriche said. “I would have to take that bill and concept to the board to get approval for it ... (last time) the board decided we would not actively work to (accept the funds.)”

This is because Planned Parenthood doesn’t just provide health care services to women. A growing faction of Planned Parenthood’s clientele are men, and erectile dysfunction drugs are important to male health and sexuality, Leriche said.

The only federal funds Planned Parenthood receives are through their Medicaid recipients. If Medicaid were impacted by any legislation passed on a federal level, 47 percent of Planned Parenthood’s clientele would feel that impact.

Leriche said Planned Parenthood does receive federal grant money, however — just less than $1 million in Vermont alone comes from federal grants, but last year the Trump administration started trying to amend Title 10, implementing a Reagan-era gag rule that prevents Title 10 recipients such as Planned Parenthood from counseling on the full range of options in the case of pregnancy.

This means Planned Parenthood’s 12 health care centers throughout Vermont would no longer be eligible to receive that money, which are used mainly to provide health care to low-income and marginalized people, she said.

“We’re the only Title 10 provider in Vermont,” Leriche said. “Anyone who was eligible would be gagged.”

The proposed amendment requires any pregnant patients to be referred to prenatal and social services, regardless of whether they want to carry their pregnancy to term, and gives the health care provider the option of denying patients any information on abortions or who provides them.

Even if the doctor agreed to help the patient find an abortion provider, they wouldn’t be allowed to specify which health care centers provided abortions.

They would be forced to tell them only which health care centers offered “comprehensive health care,” and the patient would have to hunt on their own to find out which one provided abortion services, according to legislative documents.

“If the rule goes through, we will have to turn away federal dollars through the grant program,” Leriche said. “The impact on the patients is our concern. This makes it a lot more difficult to serve the patients who need us the most.”


Act 46 extension headed to floor with negative recommendation

MONTPELIER — Members of a House committee have set the stage for a floor vote on a bill that calls for a one-year delay in the implementation of Vermont’s school district consolidation law.

Members of the House Education Committee capped Friday’s seven-hour session by voting, 7-2, to forward the bill and their negative recommendation to the full House for its consideration next week.

The latest chapter in the Act 46 odyssey played out in a cramped committee room where lawmakers — most of them wary about making any changes to the near-four-year-old law — reluctantly opened the door to that possibility.

Hours after rejecting the bill and an amendment its lead sponsor proposed at the start of the day, members concluded an amendment that was drafted on the fly in hopes of brokering an elusive compromise raised more questions than it answered.

“This is complex, it’s difficult, it’s hard and it’s distressing to figure out what the right path is,” said Chairwoman Rep. Webb, D-Shelburne, who spent much of the day holding out hope the committee could come up with language a majority of its members could get behind.

That hope faded after Webb reviewed the hastily drafted proposal that included the requested extension and a token incentive for districts that have been ordered to merge and do so by July 1. However, the bill didn’t indicate how and by whom the decision to select a launch date would be made, prompting a flurry of questions from Rep. Peter Conlon, D-Cornwall, and others.

Would voters of a merged district decide? If so, would they do so collectively or individually? Would it be left to the discretion of the school board, and if it was, would it be the new board or the ones that currently exist?

“We’ve entered a policy world that we’re not equipped to address this afternoon,” Conlon said.

Rep. Dylan Giambatista, D-Essex, admitted it wasn’t optimal and it might send a confusing signal. However, he said it was the cleanest way to allow for the promised debate on some version of a bill introduced by a tri-partisan coalition of lawmakers led by Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, R-Stowe.

“People want to have a vote on ‘delay,’” Giambatista said of a proposal that would push the launch date for mergers ordered under Act 46 to some time “on or before July 1, 2020.”

Scheuermann, who isn’t a member of the committee but has been a frequent visitor thus far this session, told members she believed the extension was crucial, notwithstanding three separate lawsuits — including one challenging the forced merger of the Stowe and Elmore-Morristown districts.

“Without the delay, the only people who will be detrimentally impacted are our students,” she said.

Debate on the law showed no signs of abating Friday, and Webb said competing emails were still coming in.

“Is there a reason why we’re voting so soon,” said Rep. Sarah “Sarita” Austin, D-Colchester, suggesting that with three court cases pending and the potential for a clarifying decision in one of them perhaps two weeks away, the committee should take a breath and wait.

Austin was told waiting wasn’t an option based on a floor vote Scheuermann was promised by House leaders in exchange for withdrawing an amendment calling for a deadline extension to the budget adjustment act earlier in the week.

“Promises were made,” said Rep. Caleb Elder, D-Starksboro.

“We’re honoring our agreement and our word is important,” Webb added.

Webb, who voted against the bill and Scheuermann’s proposed amendment earlier in the day, said while it wasn’t her preference, she could support advancing it with a negative recommendation.

“I would agree to move it to the floor,” she said, prior to a vote that saw members who supported the proposed extension agree to forward it with a negative recommendation. They were joined by most members who feared advancing the bill to a floor vote would inject chaos and confusion into the process.

That left Elder and Austin in the minority, satisfied Scheuermann and set the stage for a floor debate Webb predicted would occur Wednesday.

Scheuermann is hoping to round up 76 lawmakers to support the proposal that some fear will derail mergers on their way to completion and be used by those more interested in undermining the law than having more time to comply with it.

Though approval in the House is far from a sure thing, and the Senate hasn’t yet weighed in, Giambatista expressed concern early about opening the door to an extension.

“We’re not taking an action until it becomes law, but we’re sending a signal,” he said.

“A confusing one,” said Nicole Mace, executive director of the Vermont School Boards Association.

Though VSBA members’ mixed opinions on the subject prevented Mace from weighing in on the proposal, she did note it could be potentially disruptive.

“This essentially kicks this controversy back to local communities,” she said. “It does not solve the problem for districts that are ready to move forward.”


Rail topper

‘Model’s’ claim

A Belarusian model who claims to have audio and video recordings linking the Trump campaign to Russia has said she has made a deal to turn the material over to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. A5

Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Staff Photo/  

Hunger Mountain Co-op produce manager Robert Kirigin stocks fresh, locally grown tomatoes from Long Wind Farm of East Thetford.

JLowe / Photo by Robert C. Strong II/  

For the first time, all the playwrights in JAGfest are women. Pictured is JAGfest 2018.