Letter to the editor: Cut bureaucracy, not schools

Act 250 and Act 46 at odds with one another.
When the Vermont Legislature passed Act 250 in 1970, one of its main features was the ability of neighbors and local interest groups to weigh in on the social and economic impacts of a proposed development project. The obvious intent of the law was to prevent significant changes to the character and culture of the local community. Ironically, Act 46 passed in 2015, completely ignores this requirement.
The heart and soul of each rural community resides in their local school. Shuttering these cultural centers will have social and economic consequences far beyond anything currently being discussed. The recent letters from several Ripton parents are prescient. How many couples with young children will move into our rural communities if their children must be bused 30 minutes each way to a central school? How is that going to affect the pool of first responder volunteers within those rural communities? What is it going to do to development pressures in the anchor community? Most importantly, how it going to help offset our aging population?
One of the greatest attractions drawing young people into our highly taxed state is their desire to experience something different, something they have been missing, namely their desire to feel closely connected to their community. Without local rural schools, it’s hard to see how that will be possible.
My children have fond memories of their time at the Cornwall Elementary School. My grandchildren absolutely love attending the Ripton Elementary School. Having personally experienced how these community-based schools knit their respective communities together, I really fear what will happen if they disappear. There will be very negative unintended consequences.
The solution is to cut administrative overhead, not forever change the character of every rural community in the district.
Ralph Shepard

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