Letter to the editor: ACSD must seek alternatives to school closings
Editor’s note: This letter is in response to a letter by Addison Central School District Board Chairman Peter Conlon that ran in the Oct. 10 edition.
Dear Peter Conlon,
With reference to your letter to the editor, and with all due respect, I believe that the ACSD board has put the cart (The Facilities Master Plan) before the horse (our children.)
We have been informed that as part of The Facilities Master Plan, an expert engineer and architect have been hired to conduct an “in-depth study of our school buildings ... designed to help guide the board at how reducing the number of elementary schools might look.” This is about “providing good value to the taxpayer,” and “providing the kind of learning environments we want for our students.”
OUR STUDENTS. Where are the experts in figuring out how and where they best learn? How does one quantify the benefits of a small school? How do you assign a number to the value of being known by your teacher and community members, working side by side at a school fundraiser or learning cooperation, independence and flexibility in a multi-age classroom? How do you assess what it means to feel safe in your own community as you engage in after-school activities or live close enough to walk home?
Instead of celebrating our rural schools and recognizing the unique opportunities that they provide for learning and their important role in the fabric of Vermont life, we are planning for their closure. We are hiring consultants to determine their fate instead of sitting down at the table with the townspeople who really care. Yes, we need to tighten our belts and, if we want to preserve what we all love about Vermont, we need to creatively attract young families to our towns. We can do this. It’s not too late. But it won’t happen without give and take, communication and cooperation.
Peter, we were promised that Act 46 was not about closing schools.
Let’s fulfill that promise and figure out another way to be fiscally responsible and keep our schools open.