ANESD Renaming Committee announces five finalists

BRISTOL — The Addison Northeast School District is one step closer to a new name.
Tuesday night the ANESD Renaming Committee pored over the results of its online and phone survey, in which all members of the community were encouraged to contribute potential names for the unified school district created by the November 2016 vote.
“It’s not every day you get a chance to rename a school district,” said Superintendent Patrick Reen.
He noted that the school board wanted to engage the community, students and everyone they could in coming up with a new name for the district that encompasses Bristol, Lincoln, Monkton, New Haven and Starksboro and was formerly known as Addison Northeast Supervisory Union.
After over an hour’s discussion Tuesday, the three-person Renaming Committee (Chair Jodi Bachand, Starksboro; Liz Sayre, Bristol; and Jennifer Stanley, Monkton) decided on five finalists:
•  Addison Northeast Unified School District
•  Mount Abraham Unified School District
•  Addison Five Town Unified School District
•  Green Mountain Gateway Unified School District
•  Deer Leap Unified School District
These five names will now be posted in a second — and final — online survey so the community can vote for its top choice.
To take the online survey and vote for ANESD’s new name, go to www.surveymonkey.com/r/ANESD_Name_2 or call 453-7171.
In its selection process Tuesday night, the committee’s first criteria was sheer numbers. Out of close to 100 responses to the April 20-May 5 “brainstorming” survey, the hands-down most popular choice was “Mount Abraham School District,” with 30 votes (with minor variations). The second-most popular name was the “Addison Northeast School District,” with 15 votes.
From there the committee looked at which names (or similar names) were proposed by the most respondents and at the values and ideas expressed in the comments, many of which suggested emphasizing the region’s natural beauty. Suggestions using geographical features important to the five towns included Mount Abraham, Deer Leap, the New Haven River, Bartlett Falls and Hogback Ridge. Names that included “five town” and “Addison” were also popular.
“Robert Frost” merited a mention, as did “foliage,” “hardscrabble” and “chiroptera” in honor of the region’s bat species, many of whom have been fighting for survival against White Nose Syndrome.
“The best thing about the survey is that we got everybody’s ideas,” said Sayre.
As part of its discussion, the committee decided it was important to use “unified school district” in whichever name would be chosen. They also discussed how to clarify legal parameters for those community members who’ve asked why a new name is even necessary. Because the entity now known as the “Addison Northeast Supervisory Union” will no longer exist once the unification process is completed July 2018, part of creating the new unified school district includes having to legally embrace a new name, whatever the district’s choice will be.
Stanley, who chaired the Act 46 Study Committee, also explained that state guidelines for Act 46 study committees includes a section on renaming the newly formed unified district as part of that initial process, but the study committee wanted to be able to turn that decision over to the community. ANESD has acted as a temporary placeholder, Stanley said.
Statewide, new unified districts have tended to choose one of three paths as they move from supervisory union to unified school district. Some opt to keep a name similar to that of their old supervisory union. Locally, Addison Central Supervisory Union has become Addison Central School District and Addison Northwest Supervisory Union has become Addison Northwest School District. Some rally around their high school. The former Chittenden South Supervisory Union has opted to become the Champlain Valley School District, after its Champlain Valley Union High School in Hinesburg. Others opt for a new name entirely. The Franklin Central Supervisory Union became the Maple Run Unified School District. The Addison Rutland Supervisory Union became the Slate Valley Unified Union School District.
The Addison Northeast survey, now posted online, will close at end of day May 22, the day before the next full meeting of the ANESD school board. At that May 23 meeting, Bachand, Sayre and Stanley will present the community’s choice for the full board to approve. Between now and May 23, the committee will continue its outreach to community members and will again reach out to schools, especially, to encourage K-12 students to weigh in.
Reporter Gaen Murphree is reached at [email protected].

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