Letter to the editor: Leadership key in ANWSD school closure debate

Leadership … “a leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” — John C. Maxwell.

On Monday, Sept. 9, we will have the opportunity to review the current thinking as to the proposed future of the Addison Northwest School District elementary schools system. An open meeting will be available to have a community discussion on the elementary school consideration.

On Front Porch Forum, I have provided some insight as to the (1) challenges/problems in maintaining three separate structurally aging elementary schools with declining enrollment. I have also lent my thinking to (2) possible solutions as what to consider for the future of these aging structures, because if we are to sight issues it is reasonable to present solutions. (Editor’s note: You can read those installments with this letter online at addisonindependent.com.) Finally, I would like to offer (3) the process by which the pathway forward can proceed. To solve this issue discussion will benefit us with the leadership of the community. These are officials who we have placed trust in to lead us forward with solutions that will benefit the community as a whole.

Looking at the leadership in our community I will look at three levels that can effect change and help guide the community to resolve this complex problem. Leadership in our community is categorized into three entities. We have the leadership at the academic level, which consists of our ANWSU team. We next have our elected and appointed town officials of the administrative team that manages and runs our town government. And finally we have our elected state representative and senate members that also factor into the narrative. Each of these levels of leadership will play a part in guiding the school, towns, and county through the change which lies before us. Let’s take a look at the ANWSD leadership first and progress from there.

Over the past few years our school district has been coming out of “the dark ages” so to speak. The district was plagued with investigations, public and state scrutiny, financial situations and funding practices that brought distrust, which spilled over into the public domain. This was a very hard time for leadership at the district level and the school board level. The perseverance of the groups working and sorting through these times, marked stress and strain in the public view, I commend them for leading us through. As we emerged from these times to a renaissance (per se) the current ANWSD leadership has provided us with a significantly transparent and open dialogue type of administration. Trust and relationship building has been seen at all levels of this academic institution and within the community. My sense is they have completed an exhaustive review and are ready to present us the reasonable pathway forward for the elementary school system. I am looking forward to the meeting on Monday.

Turning to the town leadership and the state representative and senate leadership, my thinking is they will play a vital role in guiding the towns and county to improved economic development, as this issue does have a symbiotic relationship. This will be key and essential for success through transition/change should the community move forward with the proposal. At this juncture I would like to see more dialogue and engagement from both of these levels of community leaders and government. The experience and thinking which they can provide will be very helpful in sorting through levels of bureaucracy that maybe encountered. I would like to invite members of town leadership and the state representatives and senators to the meeting on Sept. 9; please make it a point to attend.

To close out this three part series perspective, I want to thank the many, many … many of you who have expressed your views and thinking on this topic. The ANWSD has been at economic odds with taxation, declining enrollment, economic slowing, business closings and other issues that plague the community’s ability to remain viable. I have very much enjoyed taking the time and listening to you and the opinions and positions you have offered. Our community will get through this issue and the will of the community will come through at the end. If you have thoughts, ideas, possible solutions, please forward them to me. I will be happy to collectively take them and share with the school board. I am looking forward to the discourse at the Sept. 9 meeting and will report back in a follow up, on what was accomplished.

Doug Sutton


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Addison County Independent

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