Letter to the editor: Equity must be assured for Addison school

The long awaited democratic decision of the school closure vote is officially behind us, and the communities have spoken! Both Addison and Ferrisburgh voted in the majority for keeping their schools intact. With a 50 percent voter turnout in both towns, and a 75 percent opposed vote in Addison and an 85 percent opposed vote in Ferrisburgh, it’s safe to say that each town has the same vision for their schools. Yet, the fate of Addison Central School (ACS) still sits in the hands of the school board. One of the reasons provided by the ANWSD School Board (the Board) for proposed school closures is to better provide equity for all students. Unfortunately, we in Addison, do not feel the rewards of this promise so far, nor do we see the results through the actions of the Board.

The definition of equity is “the quality of being fair and impartial.” Yet, despite the fact that residents of both towns voted opposed to closing their elementary schools, the future of ours could look drastically different than the other. In a Board policy meeting Nov. 5, the committee discussed the possibilities for Addison’s future contingent upon an opposed vote, and there still remains the question of what to do with our students. While Ferrisburgh Central School can thoroughly enjoy a victory at the polls, and rest easy on their laurels, ACS continues to worry about the possibility of a rapid transition with very little time to prepare. Or we face the potential of having an entirely alternative type of education in our building. Either way, we are not experiencing the same relief of knowing where our kids will be next year. Equity, the educational unicorn, is merely a buzzword — a selling strategy to mask the seriousness of the situation. One cannot preach the importance of fairness while looking down their nose at it. To give two towns an identical vote that then produces a mirrored response and insists on completely different outcomes is NOT fair or impartial.

The definition of privilege is “a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.” So while one town is being treated with privilege, we’re paying the other off in the name of equity? This cannot happen; therefore, we are asking the Board to explore the option of keeping ACS students in their school and simultaneously adding the proposed alternative education program. This could be just one out of many possible proposals for our district. While it will not magically fix the entire budget, it could be a start.

When deciding the fate of ACS, we would encourage the board to consider our geographic location, population and demographic make-up as assets as opposed to deficit. While Addison may be small in size, we will not be silenced into compliance. We will not allow one town to be bulldozed into submission — the Board must act in a fair and impartial manner for all students in all communities. We will continue to show up, highlight any injustices of the Board’s proposals for ACS, and demand equity for each and every student. We ask any stakeholders who have power over the outcomes of these upcoming school issues, to put your money where your mouth is — actions speak louder than words. Currently, we see no actions of equity, just merely words. We must come together to stop the division and unite to find fair solutions for our children. Please join us.

Caetlin Harwood, Jena Santa Maria, Ashley Paquette

on behalf of the Rural School Alliance - Addison Chapter

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Addison County Independent

58 Maple Street
Middlebury, VT 05753

Phone: 802.388.4944
Fax: 802.388.3100