Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: ANWSD board should be receptive to all options

We teach our children to be creative problem solvers, to think innovatively — skills that they will need in spades to deal with an ever-changing and uncertain world. Let’s model this same thinking now when it matters most for our children, our communities and our schools. Let’s find a path forward for the Addison Northwest School District (ANWSD) that’s fiscally sustainable — yes — and also, dare I say, inspired!
The doom and gloom of per-pupil spending thresholds, penalties, and declining enrollment loomed large over the community at the Sept. 9 ANWSD school board meeting. While I appreciate all the hard work and long hours that have gone into trying to find a path forward for our district, it was evident during the meeting that the Superintendent’s office and the school board are leading us at breakneck speed into a scenario of huge consequence, without any real vision, direction, or solid justification.
We are being told Scenario 3, closing Ferrisburgh Central School (FCS) and Addison Central School (ACS), is the best solution because it will “save us the most money.” We get it. It’s about the bottom line. But we didn’t see sufficient data that supports the assertion that Scenario 3 is better than a three-school model, such as scenario 4(b) — which, it appears, gets the district where it needs to be budget-wise without closing FCS, one of the best schools in our district. There are other ideas, such as adopting a K-8 model at VUES and FCS that could have educational benefits for the children and potentially get the budget on track. There’s no way of knowing unless we continue to explore these avenues. While I trust that the board has given scenario 3 much consideration, I didn’t see any evidence that it will solve the issue longterm. And if it doesn’t, we have worked our way into a corner having already lost some of our most valuable assets.
Thankfully, some board members were receptive to their constituents’ concerns about the lack of community engagement in this process and postponed the vote until Sept. 27. It is my hope that during this brief period the community will get a chance to analyze all of the information and see comparisons of the possible scenarios, in particular, variations of a three-school solution, and additionally, have the opportunity to offer their ideas that the board will consider.
Fear-based thinking will not serve our ability to solve our issues. There are holistic ways to approach this problem. Let’s align our efforts in education with town planning and development. Let’s explore out-of-the-box solutions for new educational models that are working for other communities. Let’s re-energize our schools and attract families to our district. We can write our own story here and build on the strength of our towns and schools. We cannot afford not to. I ask that the school board offers my family a solution we can stand behind.
Carolinne Griffin
North Ferrisburgh

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