Letter to the editor: ACSD budget shortchanges Mary Hogan students
First, Middlebury voters should reject the proposed Addison Central School District (ACSD) budget with a “no” vote on Town Meeting Day. Ramifications of this budget include cutting one full-time classroom teacher at Mary Hogan. Justification for this staffing reduction at our small and socio-economically diverse elementary school is flawed and it cannot be allowed so long as ACSD maintains six other outlying, less efficiently operated, micro schools. ACSD must cut buildings before the critical staffing that will impact the educational experience for our students.
There is an anonymous online survey circulating amongst the community to gauge the sentiment around the budget. Your participation in this poll is much appreciated.
Second, ACSD must study a three-school solution as part of its facilities master planning process. This is as efficient and fiscally responsible as the district could be, from a facilities standpoint, before having to cut staff, programs or extra-curriculars. This system would include Mary Hogan, Middlebury Union Middle School (MUMS) repurposed as a second elementary school, and a consolidated MUMS and Middlebury Union High School on the MUHS campus; no new schools or significant additions. This would allow for seven or eight elementary classrooms per grade with around 18 students per classroom and sixth grade remaining part of the elementary system.
Minimal renovation, beyond bringing all three schools up to date on maintenance, code compliance, and energy efficiency should be required in this model thus reducing the amount of the impending bond request. All three schools also have access to municipal wastewater, which removes a barrier to increased occupancy at many of the micro schools.
Whether this proposal is ultimately chosen or not, I feel that it deserves equal consideration and study to that of the elementary only options that are currently being explored. Tougher fiscal times are ahead for ACSD and its facilities need to be configured as efficiently as possible in order to allow maximum tax dollars to flow to the education of the students.