Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: ACSD board is missing the forest for the trees

Note: This letter is in response to an email that was sent to a Ripton town list by Tracey Harrington. She had concerns that the “opposition” to school consolidation was making the situation feel like a “battle against good and evil” and “about winning or losing.” She expressed her thoughts that working together as one district is her preference.
To Tracey and community,
Interesting viewpoint. I’m not sure from where the feeling of “battle” is coming, or the “winning/losing” thing?
The folks whom are trying to do what they think is best for the children are not doing so in anger or dissonance.
It does seem, however, that the school board is so deep into what they believe to be the answer to school consolidation that they can not see the forest for the trees, and are thinking shortsightedly. When the board came to Ripton to supposedly “hear our concerns,” it seemed they were already decided on their course of action and were not willing to hear the concerns.
My experience with the board in the past (not related to school consolidation, but related to the care of our children) has been very disappointing! At one point, I met with the board and walked away with my first thought being, “Wow, their first care is not the children’s needs, but the entrenched bureaucratic process!”
In this bureaucracy, I believe the board has lost sight of the fact that the people of the towns are the taxpayers footing the bill for the schools and your jobs. The way the closing of the schools has been structured has left the small towns and taxpayers without a voice.
I don’t speak for anyone but myself, but I feel that what I value for children in my small town has been completely ignored by the board. It is my viewpoint that the people who are hoping to see the school remain open are absolutely putting the children first and caring for what is best for the children’s future. Also, I believe that the school board is so concerned about the financials and the spiraling health-care costs, that they are sacrificing what is best for the children, and the vibrance of communities. Leaving towns with vacant buildings and no other plan or assistance for that structure is very bad business! This short-term thinking is detrimental to all of our families in the long run.
My family lived in Middlebury and moved to Ripton because we wanted our son to attend the Ripton Elementary School. There is no question that the foundation of education/experience my son acquired at the Ripton School was excellent and unsurpassable. Other children need to be allowed this gift. In addition, our school is a town centerpiece and is part of what provides vibrance to the community and value to our homes, etc. One large supervisory union should not be allowed to shut down a small school unless the particular town agrees.
While I am not a school administrator, I have had experience balancing the books of a small business for over 25 years. I’m sure the financial, administrative and operational challenges will be anything but easy! However, I do think Ripton is comprised of bright, intelligent, resourceful folks that will rise to the occasion of running a fine small school. Eventually, who knows, we might end up paying less than what we end up paying belonging to the ACSU, and reap many more rewards?
Thank you for your time,
Judy Kowalczyk
Ripton

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