Opinion: ACSU consolidation seen not as choice, but ‘coercion’

Those who support school board consolidation say we should vote yes because: 1) it’s better for students, and 2) it’s better for our pocketbooks. At one of the first meetings back in the fall I asked this question: “How — specifically — will the experience of, for example, a third-grader in this school be improved by school board unification? Take his experience now and compare it to post-unification. How will it be better?” No one could answer.
In my town our school board consists of five dedicated community members — some of whom I see in our school daily, and all of whom are in the building at least once a month. Under unification that dynamic will be replaced by one voice at a much larger table making decisions about all the schools — schools inside which most board members will never set foot. How can that possibly be better?
Act 46 is being presented as a choice that voters will make at town meeting in a few weeks. But this is deceiving. It is not a choice at all. We can vote yes or we can vote no but the outcome will be the same: School board consolidation will happen. It will either happen now (with financial incentive) or it will happen later (without it). That’s not a choice. That’s coercion.
Perhaps it will actually turn out that a consolidated school board will improve student experiences, student outcomes and the state of our pocketbooks. I hope so. But the way it is being forced upon us under the guise of democratic vote is shameful.
Wendy Leeds

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