ACSD will wait until June for school-closure vote

MIDDLEBURY — Addison Central School Board members agreed on Monday to delay their decision on possible elementary school closures until the end of this academic year.
The board had been slated to make that major decision at its annual meeting on Feb. 23, but decided to postpone the vote in order to give more time for public feedback. The board also will get the full results of a transportation study that will give officials a better sense of how transitioning from the current seven elementary schools to four would affect the duration of student bus rides.
The ACSD panel is currently leaning toward a plan to close the Ripton, Weybridge and Bridport elementary schools, while maintaining those in Middlebury, Cornwall, Salisbury and Shoreham. School closures will be part of an ACSD facilities master plan that will, among other things, identify which of the district’s buildings should remain part of its long-term educational mission.
Residents of Ripton and Weybridge, in particular, have voiced concern about the prospect of losing their schools. Voters of both communities on Jan. 12 will consider a proposal to withdraw from the ACSD (see related story on Page 1A). These referenda were forced by citizens’ petitions spearheaded by individuals opposed to the closure of their elementary schools. As it stands, the ACSD board can close a school by super-majority vote (at least a 10-3 margin).
“I think this is maybe the fourth time we’ve extended the timeline, and I think it’s a good thing,” Board member Amy McGlashan said. “We said, at the beginning, that this was going to be an iterative process; that we’re learning as we go. There’s always more information. At some point, we need to (decide) at what point we have enough information to make decisions, but we’re not there yet.”
Board member James “Chip” Malcolm also agreed with extending the decision deadline, but warned against further postponements.
“I think at times we have to say, ‘This has to be it,’” Malcolm said. “This decision has to be made at some point … You can never have all the information you can possibly want, because you can’t know the future.”
John Flowers is at [email protected].

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