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Letter to the editor: As Bristol parent and taxpayer, Reen says yes to Act 46

The voters in the five towns of Bristol, Lincoln, Monkton, New Haven and Starksboro have an incredible opportunity on Nov. 8. We have the opportunity to vote yes on Act 46 to support a new design for governing our schools. This new design promises to increase our focus on teaching and learning, strengthen school-family-community partnerships and also happens to save taxpayers money.
As a parent and uncle to children in our school system, a taxpayer in our community and an educational leader I will be voting yes on Act 46 because it makes a great deal of sense to me from each of these perspectives.
Focus on Teaching and Learning. For us to realize our full potential as an organization we need focus, connectedness and a plan of action. Voting yes on Act 46 supports all of these. I have been talking with teachers, administrators, board members and community members this fall about exciting work that is underway in ANESU with our strategic planning process.
This process is intended to bring our five-town community together (connectedness) to create a common vision for our schools (focus) and a detailed plan on how to realize that vision (plan of action). Only when our entire organization can focus on this work, rather than the work required of our current overly bureaucratic and complex governance structure, will we be able to realize our full potential. Our current governance structure produces a lot of meetings but too few are truly focused on teaching and learning.
Strengthen School-Family-Community Partnership.
Some individuals have shared with me a concern they have about losing “local control” and along with it the relationship each town has with its school. I believe the strength of the connection between each community and its school is measured by the time community members and students spend together, either in our schools or out in the community. It is certainly not best measured by the number of community members in attendance at board meetings (which typically averages less than one).
This school-family-community relationship can be enhanced under Act 46 through the local advisory councils referenced in the proposed ANESU Act 46 Study Committee Report. These councils would be designed to provide regular opportunities for community members to voice their thoughts, ideas or concerns about their school as well as to hear more about what is happening in their school.
Save Money.
Some have argued Act 46 doesn’t save a lot of money. Others would argue that every bit helps. The reality is how large or small the savings are is a matter of perspective. The fact is a yes vote for Act 46 will cost taxpayers less than a no vote on Act 46. With facilities in need of major repairs and renovations I would argue that every bit of tax incentives or savings realized will help.
As you head to the polls on Nov. 8, I hope you will consider the benefits to a simplified governance structure that emphasizes teaching, learning and community at a cost deemed acceptable by voters.
Patrick Reen
Bristol
Editor’s note: Patrick is not only a Bristol resident, but also in July he started as ANESU superintendent.

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