Closing down Community High School campuses is a bad idea

DUMMERSTON — I am writing regarding the proposed closure of the Community High School of Vermont campuses across the state, and more specifically, the possible closure of its Brattleboro campus.

I have seen, time and again, the effectiveness of the local CHS's program and staff in helping to graduate the students who had previously dropped out or who were kicked out of high school and who have not had success in gaining a high-school equivalent through other school options.

The CHS in Brattleboro is highly effective for the students whom other school systems fail. It provides more than just a high-school education. The competence and compassion of the staff provide an atmosphere where students receive not only effective educational services but also the social and life skills that they need to become productive citizens of our community.

In addition, Brattleboro's CHS works closely with Tapestry and RISE (Recovery in an Independent, Sober Environment) to help provide education to young people in treatment for alcohol or drug abuse.

If we believe substance abuse is an immediate problem, failure to provide a path to a good future built on education, job skills, life skills, and connection to community may well end up in relapse and possible future criminal conduct. Drug treatment by itself is not a long-term solution to an underlying sense that a person's present life and future prospects look bleak.

The closing of the Brattleboro campus would directly impact young people who are the clients of Tapestry, RISE, and Youth Services. These young people most often are people from, and who will stay in, our community, including some who are young parents and are attempting to raise families of their own.

By closing down this effective educational option, we will leave these students and our communities vulnerable to unemployment and poverty, which can contribute to increased recidivism and dependence on state benefits and can result in a less-skilled labor force.

It would be a significant loss to our community should we lose this extremely valuable resource.

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