Letter to the editor: Don’t overlook the intangibles that small schools provide
My take is the waters are muddy and closing three or four small schools is an extreme option. Moving forward with this plan puts Weybridge in the challenging position of accepting this option versus pursuing a similarly extreme option of withdrawal.
Thus far a major focus has been on the tangible benefits of consolidation — finances and the physical state of individual buildings. While I appreciate each board member for their dedication and service to our community, I am concerned the board has overlooked many intangibles that can’t be easily quantified on a spreadsheet or neatly packed into a power point.
Small elementary schools serve as cornerstones for rural communities and a place of nurturing for some of our most impressionable community members. The plan to increase the student population at Mary Hogan while significantly decreasing staffing does not practically sound like a formula for success. My concern is that many young children won’t continue to be seen and heard in the same way.
The loss of jobs will be a personal tragedy for some, and the collective impact on our local economy is uncertain. Will multiple school closures impact property values and the long-term prosperity of individual towns? There are many unknowns with potential unforeseen downstream consequences.
At a Porch Conversation I voiced the following analogy — we have a tree that is too large and not presently sustainable. In closing three or four schools are we not cutting the tree at the trunk and being told the tree will grow back just fine? As we have all seen this year, life is far too unpredictable — no one truly knows how the tree will grow back in terms of our children’s experiences, our social fabric, and the larger community. Why not trim the branches until, in balance, we get to where we need to be?
If one or two schools were thoughtfully slated for closure (with the intention of reassessing down the road) I would not vote for withdrawal. As things stand, I don’t feel we are left with a better option.
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