NORTH BENNINGTON — Anyone thinking about raising children in Vermont may want to consider North Bennington first. That’s what Business Week says in its recent “2010 Best Place to Raise Your Kids” ranking.
In the business magazine’s annual selection of the top municipalities in each state to raise children, the most heavily weighted criteria considered the affordability, safety and school test scores in each.
Also considered were the number of schools, household expenditures, air quality, job growth, family incomes, diversity, museums, parks, theaters and other amenities of each town.
Information of towns and cities, and in North Bennington’s case at least one village, was gathered by the magazine in collaboration with OnBoard Informatics, a New York-based provider of real estate analysis.
North Bennington, with a listed population under 1,400, the magazine said “is a small town with the state’s oldest fire company, four churches, a library, post office, railroad station, a dozen stores, a few restaurants, hiking trails, a college, a 35-acre lake, two schools and a symphony orchestra.”
Matthew Patterson, chairman of the Village Trustees, said he wasn’t aware of the news before Thursday, but said he’s long thought of the village as one of the best places to raise a family. “I’m not surprised in the sense that I’ve always felt that we’ve known that secret as members of the community, but it does take me by surprise,” Patterson said.
When hearing the news, Patterson immediately pointed to North Bennington Graded School, which he referred to as the “glue of the community,” and as a major factor making the village attractive for families.
“Certainly what would have created that honor is our school; that’s what sets us apart,” Patterson said. “It’s a unique school with the dedication of families to its programs.”
James Williams, a member of the North Bennington Prudential Committee, said what differentiates NBGS from other elementary schools is the community’s involvement in the student’s education.
“We really focus on individualized education,” Williams said. “We really understand that it takes an entire community to support local education … it’s not just the students, it’s not just the teachers, it’s not just the parents, but it takes an entire community to achieve what we are, and what we are going to achieve.”
Patterson said hiking trails that wind through open land in the village, Bennington College and Lake Paran where kids fish year-round and swimin the summer also add a lot to the community.
“It’s kind of a perfect storm of features that has allowed the village to be what it is,” Patterson said.
Although, Patterson said there are many towns in the state that offer similar amenities and, like all towns, there are hardships as well. “Some of those things that make us what we are also make it difficult to be who we are.” he said.
Business Week states in the article that selections on the list were limited to towns with at least 45,000 residents and a median income between $40,000 and $125,000 in 49 of the states. “Vermont was given a pass on the population restrictions because none of its cities would otherwise have made the cut,” the article says. It lists North Bennington’s median income above $54,000.
North Bennington’s selection takes the throne from Burlington, which was named the top place in Vermont to raise kids in the 2009 edition.
Also receiving mention in the ranking are the towns of Bradford and Newbury, which were chosen as runners-up in Vermont.
by DAWSON RASPUZZI
(c) 2009 Brattleboro Reformer. All rights reserved. Reproduced with permission.
North Bennington, Community Information