Letter to the editor: Savings don’t justify school closings

It was disappointing that the Addison Central School District Board has not come up with any more positive proposals than to question the need for six small rural elementary schools one more time. These six schools’ total cost, as per an exhibit, is $5.7 million (417 students) compared to $5.3 million (441 students) for Mary Hogan, $4.2 million (267 students) for Middlebury Union Middle School, $7.8 million (558 students) for Middlebury Union High School and $6.1 million for Special Education. The savings from closing one, two or three will not have a significant impact on ACSD total cost per pupil, based on the board estimates.
Further the future enrollment projections were based on 2018/19 numbers whereas 2019/20 projections became available in December. These show that enrollment will actually increase by 34 students (2 percent) and updated five-year projections would show no further decreases over the period based on current elementary enrollments progressing through MUMS and MUHS. And oh, by the way, the “idea” is back to further weaken the rural elementary schools by consolidating grade 6 into MUMS.
It seems strange that after a very open and comprehensive discussion on the Five Year Strategy in 2014/15, which is being actioned on plan according to the latest updates, and IB (International Baccalaureate) is being implemented successfully (a huge accomplishment), that the whole future organization is being thrown into question by bricks and mortar. As has been addressed by many letters in this space, the issues are not only about “Student Equity” but also about  all Addison County towns equity, values and opportunities. Unification does not mean elimination. The potential savings, if any, on closing a few small buildings will not compensate for the much larger ACSD loss of vision and equity.
Nick Causton

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