Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: ACSD board should rethink school consolidation plan

One year ago I was optimistic about school consolidation — imagine the improved benefits of larger better staffed schools! More specialist help for kids who need it! More art, music, and math for all students! I eagerly read the Addy Indy article this summer, but was surprised when it announced a plan to close four of seven ACSD elementary schools citing a 350 page architectural report that lacks a single word about education. Admittedly late to the conversation, I began to tune in, digging up information as best I could. In the last couple of months I have learned that the “Facilities Master Plan” is not driven by facilities, but by the desire to implement a 10% budget cut across ACSD. The currently favored “Three School Model” derives these savings primarily from cutting 59 ACSD faculty and staff positions.
The more I learn, the more I feel obliged to speak out against the Facilities Master Plan. First, it seems that ACSD leaders are on a mission to cut budgets and reduce staffing without a clear mandate from the community. Numerous polls, petitions, and Front Porch voices demonstrate that communities do not support the plan, the process or the timeline. If the school board aims to represent the community, why not present us with clear choices and perform a poll or referendum to find out how everyone feels? Second, I feel that the ACSD leadership is rushing the closure process with a plan to vote by March 3rd, 2021. This deadline seems premature considering they have yet to present a curricular model to the community. By rushing school closure without a clear plan, the school board is forcing communities into a defensive position when many of us would prefer to work constructively.
 I urge the ACSD leadership to take a step back and reinvent this process, which has clearly disenfranchised communities, perhaps even Middlebury itself. Please reevaluate your mandate and consider who initiated these cuts and who is this process serving? Please clearly state your financial goals and give us a clear picture of their curricular impact. Most importantly, please do not forget that our schools are a safety net that strengthen our least fortunate families. Schools efficiently deliver resources to those who need them most. Why are we rushing to cut a community support system and 59 jobs during the time of greatest need?
Will Amidon
Cornwall
 
 

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