Howard Weiss-Tisman

Reporter For Southern Vermont & The Connecticut River Valley

Howard Weiss-Tisman is VPR's reporter for Southern Vermont & the Connecticut River Valley. He worked at the Brattleboro Reformer for 11 years, reporting on most towns in the region and specializing on statewide issues including education, agriculture, energy and mental health. Howard received a BA in Journalism from University of Massachusetts. He filed his first story with VPR in September 2015.

Ways to Connect

People sit around the table during a Vermont House Appropriations Committee discussion.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Lawmakers were hoping to begin testing the water at Vermont schools and daycare centers for lead this academic year. But as lawmakers are having a tough time deciding what level of lead triggers remediation and how much state money to put toward the work, it looks unlikely testing can start before school lets out in June.

Dr. Bryan Smith, standing, talks with a nurse at Gifford Medical Center in Randolph.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

A recent report found that eight the state's 14 hospitals fell short of revenue forecasts in 2018. Gifford Medical Center officials say a workforce shortage is one of the biggest challenges, and it’s having a serious effect on the bottom line.

A partial view of a care tire set against a black background.
nicolas_ / iStock

The Agency of Transportation wants Vermont to be a testing site for self-driving cars, but there’s a debate in the Statehouse right now over how much oversight towns should have when the technology is tested on public roads.

Overflow from the White River runs over a road near the village of Royalton.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Drivers across the state had to make alternative plans Monday after a night of heavy rain and snowmelt flooded riverbanks, sending water across the roadways.

Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

A group around the Windham County town of Londonderry is challenging the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation's plans to increase infrastructure at Lowell Lake State Park.

Voters from Brattleboro, Putney, Dummerston and Guilford met in the Brattleboro Union High School gym recently to form the newly merged school district. All of the towns voted down a merger plan but are now consolidating to meet Act 46 deadline.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Time is running out for school districts that are fighting their Act 46 forced mergers, and school boards are reluctantly putting the pieces in place to have their new districts operational before July 1.

Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Under Vermont’s Dual Enrollment program, high school students can take college courses, and have the state pay for it.

Advocates say the program saves families money, and gives college-bound students a jump on their post-secondary career.

But some students who live along the border and go to high school in another state aren’t allowed to access the state funding that pays for the college courses.

One high school student is fighting to change that.

Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

The town of Springfield has struggled with declining jobs and population loss since long before news broke that one of its largest employers, the local hospital, is losing money. If Springfield Hospital closes, it would be a blow to a community that’s been trying to reinvent itself.

A stethoscope on a table with paperwork in the background.
SteveColeImages / iStock

A new report from the Office of Professional Regulation says that Vermont would benefit in a number of ways from joining a multi-state nursing compact, but acknowledges such a change would also have financial impact.

A sign that says Welcome to the Childbirth Center and the Springfield Hospital logo, next to a black and white photo of an adult hand making a heart around baby feet.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

The Springfield Hospital board of trustees voted Tuesday to close the hospital's child-birthing unit, as it tries to shave $6.5 million off this year’s budget.

Tunbridge Planning Commission member Ingrid Van Steamburg sits before a table with different color nametags, to correspond with different towns.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

It's been almost a year since Utah developer David Hall announced that he would be giving up on his plan to build a 5,000-acre "sustainable community," designed for up to 20,000 people, in the Upper Valley.

Now people from the four towns that pushed back on the development are trying to figure out what's next, working together to come up with regional solutions to many of the same issues other rural communities around Vermont face.

Two women hug among a crowd in a hallway
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Springfield Hospital needs to trim about $6.5 million from the current year budget, and the administration announced recently that the childbirth center may be closed to save money.

Vermont Education Secretary Dan French, left, and State Board of Education chairwoman Krista Huling consult a merger map during a State Board meeting Wednesday.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR File

The Vermont Agency of Education is stepping up its pressure on school districts that are fighting their Act 46 forced mergers.

Secretary of Education Dan French sent out a memo Friday saying if districts don’t move forward with the forced mergers, the state "will take every action legally available to bring the district into compliance."

Chris Williams, of Shaftsbury, leads a group of friends on the cross-country ski trails at Prospect Mountain.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

A deal to conserve the Prospect Mountain cross-country ski center, outside of Bennington, was finalized at the end of last month. The three-year project created a nonprofit to take over the ski center, and the 122-acre property is now protected from any future development.

People sit in chairs at Jamaica Town Meeting and look up to a group of people sitting at a table at a stage in the front of the room.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

There’s been a lot of focus on the school districts that are fighting forced mergers, and what they would do about passing a budget this year.

But even in the districts that have successfully merged, Act 46 churned up some strong emotions on Town Meeting Day.

An Italian-inspired cascade on the campus of Southern Vermont College. Greenery in the background.
Ric Cengeri / VPR File

Southern Vermont College, in Bennington, announced Monday that it will be closing at the end of the spring semester. The college's president, David Evans, made the announcement in a press release sent out Monday morning.

Rio Daims wearing a hat standing in front of a wall at the Brattleboro Food Co-op.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Brattleboro voters will decide on Town Meeting Day if 16- and 17-year-olds should be able to vote in local elections. For the teenager who’s been working on the ballot question, there have been some lessons learned about how the slow-turning wheels of democracy move forward.

Voters from the Windham Southeast Unified Union School District stand to be counted at a meeting in Brattleboro. Many towns did not vote on a school budget this Town Meeting Day.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Town Meeting Day is the time when school budgets are debated and voted on.

But the resistance across Vermont to the forced mergers brought on by Act 46 means many votes will not take place in early March.

Students seated in the gym of Jamaica Elementary School.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Debates about school district consolidations elicit strong feelings, on every side of the issue.

Opponents of Act 46 say it is destroying small communities. Supporters say it’s the only way to address declining enrollment and cut costs.

But for smaller schools in newly merged districts, the reality is often more nuanced.

The Rice Memorial High School sign outside the school on a snowy, gray day.
Meg Malone / VPR

Two families from Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington are suing the state, arguing religious schools should be allowed to use the dual enrollment program.

Under dual enrollment, high school students take college courses for credit, and the state picks up the tab. The program is closed to students from parochial schools, but there are two bills in the legislature that would open it up to all high school students.