Letter to the editor: Addy Indy treated ANWSD board unfairly before vote

Your editorial “Let small schools prove themselves” and the article written by Mr. Ross “Addison gears up for school closure fight” (both published in the Independent on Oct. 24) made me sick to my stomach, due to both the lack of investigative reporting on the issue and the false narrative that you chose to perpetuate of the school board as the villain. The school board is composed of ordinary people who care deeply about schools and education; they are our neighbors and we elected them to oversee the ANWSD (Addison Northwest School District).

Neither of you took time to interview school board members in the development of your stories. Mr. Ross quotes a student who believes the students’ voices should have been part of the process, but he fails to mention that she is one of the four student representatives to the school board. You point out that there is “more than one way to skin a cat” (in reference to making budget cuts), but then fail to offer any alternatives on how to cut the budget. The board has said in open meetings that it would like to hear alternatives that would cut the budget sufficiently, but your only suggestion is that the schools need more time to prove themselves. The large tax increase last year closed the budget gap so that there would be more time, but raising taxes by a similar amount again this year would be an economic hardship for many residents of the five-town community (and likely wouldn’t pass).

If you or Mr. Ross had taken the time to talk with anyone on the school board, you would know that closing schools is not something they want to do and that the reason someone puts their name on the ballot is because they believe in public education. My husband is on the school board not because he is “overbearing” or “acts like a king” as you suggest, but because he cares deeply about education and our community. In addition to serving on the ANWSD board, he volunteers for teacher and staff appreciation events, scholastic book fairs, and walk-and-roll to school days. He attends high school graduation because he is proud of the graduates’ accomplishments. He listens to community members who want to share their opinions or concerns, and tries to honor what he hears with the realities of the budget. The members of the ANWSD school board have behaved professionally — even when confronted with less than professional attitudes. The board is not a faceless enemy set to destroy the community; it is a collection of our friends and neighbors who are doing the best they can with the limited resources at their disposal.

You also suggest that the board should resign if the Nov. 5 vote fails, forgetting perhaps that they are elected by the voters and those voters can “fire” them on the first Tuesday in March. But voting out the school board (or them resigning) would require other people to step up and put their names on the ballot. Since unification, school board candidates have run unopposed. Of the residents in our district, only 15 have stepped up to serve. Our children deserve the best education we can give them so I hope that anyone who wants to make a difference will put their name on the ballot.

Erin Roche

Vergennes

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Addison County Independent

58 Maple Street
Middlebury, VT 05753

Phone: 802.388.4944
Fax: 802.388.3100