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Letters to the Editor: Slow down on the 6th-grade move

Fifteen months ago after nine months of study we came together to consolidate our school district. Eight months ago after 18 months of study our school board voted to become an IB (International Baccalaureate) district. These changes are deep and wide and both decisions were made with hope for the future.
Now, before we have seen how either change will impact our schools and our towns, over the course of just two months we have been asked to think about moving our district 6th graders out of their elementary schools and into Middlebury Union Middle School. We’ve responded to a survey, raised questions, listened to answers, viewed presentations and in the end, it is clear. There is no clear answer:
• Our district officials tell us there is no clear answer in the literature.
• Our design team presenters tell us there is no clear answer from professionals in the field or from our own professional staff.
• IB tells us there is no one way to implement IB.
• Our surveys, meetings and conversations tell us there is no clear call-to-action from the community.
What is clear is that parents and community members have concerns about opportunity as well as about equity in programming and in quality of education in our elementary schools. These concerns are not a 6th grade issue. They are a K-6 issue. We expect to see Addison Central School District (ACSD) directly tackling equity and opportunity for all students K-6. Moving 6th grade to MUMS would require significant resources with no real identified budget savings, resources that would draw time and energy away from the changes also necessary in K-5. Significantly, in moving 6th grade we would not gain a template that could be applied to tackling inequity and opportunity in K-5.
Without the weight of a strong argument directing us away from our current model it is illogical to make a change, particularly another big change during a period of such transition and transformation. Instead, let us learn to trust our new ACSD board and see it look hard at the bigger picture as opposed to trying a patch for just one grade. Let us be excited about IB and devote our energies to its success. Let us enjoy our newly consolidated district and the positive relationships we are working so hard to build.
We urge the members of the ACSD school board to vote “no” on moving 6th grade.
Concerned Residents of ACSD
Julie Barry, Duffy Allen, Ben Balk, Ruth Bernstein, Emily Bridges, Monique Bonner, Natasha Causton, Julia Chant, David Cole, Robin Foster Cole, Carolyn Crowley, Lily Devlin, Ophelia Eglene, Laura Fetterolf, Shawn Fetterolf, Erick Gong, Faith Gong and Dena Greenman.
And also Phil Hadley, Kirsten Hendy, Corinne Kehoe, Bronwen Kent, Melissa Kobelin, Jason Lamb, Amy Mason, Brian Mason, Jamie Northrup, Alison Nurok, Saul Nurok, Dana Olsen, Rudi Olsen, Alix O’Meara, Sam Prouty, and Stacey Rainey.
And also Jim Ralph, Kelly Rizzo, John-Eric Robinson, Abby Schnoor, Jason Schnoor, Samantha Schmitt, Tiffany Stowe, Megan Sutton, Albert Thalen, Jane Thalen, Alison Underwood, Emily Van Mistri, Marci Whitney, Amanda Young, John Young, Heather Hamilton and Christina Wadsworth

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