Opinion: Unification vote merits support

Let’s talk about the kids. “Vermont students outpace their peers in most other states on national tests, can hold their own on international assessments, and have one of the highest graduation rates in the nation — 92% in 2014” (The Mountain Times, Dec. 17, 2015).
Education is an ever-evolving process which needs to mirror the culture and society our children are growing up in. Act 46 serves to ensure that we do not lag behind in providing a structure that works for all the towns, large and small, in Vermont.
In the Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union, our small elementary schools must provide an equitable education which prepares students for secondary schools and beyond. Our state requires of schools and students mastery of academic achievement, personalized learning, safety and school climate, high-quality staffing and cost-effectiveness. The choice of district consolidation is not ours at this point; but it is our responsibility to support the efforts of our state education leaders who have our children’s best interests in mind, and to pass Act 46 at this phase in the three-step process. It is a win-win for everyone.
I have been an active participant in Vermont’s education system for over 35 years as a parent, teacher, administrator and taxpayer. I strongly believe that we should vote YES on Act 46 School District Consolidation on Jan. 19 because it is inevitable that this will happen in the near future with or without our blessings.
If we choose to support this act now we will benefit from many financial incentives that will not be available in the future; and we can be assured that our small schools will remain open for four more years. This effort is being handled responsibly and in a timely manner.
After attending the last study committee meeting at Otter Valley Union High School, I was impressed with the effort being put forward by representatives from all our local communities to work together to make this opportunity for our collective districts happen. I honestly expected some disagreements, bad feelings and otherwise rocky banter. But I was pleasantly surprised that this committee and Superintendent Jeanne Collins had the facts, the expertise and the wisdom to know what is good for children.
The world of education is changing faster than we can imagine, and our children need the skills and knowledge to compete. Visit any high school in this area and see for yourself how vastly different our curriculum and teaching strategies have become. This is not about nostalgic memories — but rather the hard realities of our economic and social structures today. We all have a lot to learn and act upon.
In closing, I am urging you to come out and support this consolidation on Jan. 19. Also, as a representative from Sudbury for a seat on the At-Large District Board, please vote for me so I can continue to work hard to keep Vermont schools one of the nation’s best school systems.
If you need more information there will be many public informational meetings in this area in the coming weeks, and I urge you to attend any one of them (all the same information) in any town and hear the facts for yourself. Your children will thank you.
Linda Kokinis

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