Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Lawmakers should fix Act 46, support small schools

I encourage all board members on all three of Addison County unified districts’ school boards to stop, pick your heads up and look around. Small towns all around the state are fighting to keep their community schools open. And the problem isn’t the quality of education in our smallest schools. The problem is taxes. And the solution that is being bantered around is going to unfairly affect the youngest community members of our smallest towns. If taxes weren’t so high in this state, we wouldn’t be in this predicament. 
About five years ago, school board members sold the idea of unified districts by telling voters that it would be in their best interest to consolidate because consolidation would save a lot of money. It hasn’t. They also sold the idea by promising small towns that their school would not be closed. They assured voters that it wasn’t about closing schools. They’re now planning to close schools. Like lemmings to the sea.
Our small schools are precious. They are often the heart of our small towns. For hundreds of years, they have been the hub of community involvement and activity. It is inherently easier for children in our smaller schools to have their individual academic and social needs met due to the lower teacher to student ratio. Because our small schools are mostly located in rural areas, there is a strong emphasis on invaluable outdoor based learning.
The decision to close a school should rest solely with the voters of that town and only those voters. No one else. No outsiders.
The problem is Act 46. It’s a state-wide problem. It’s not working. The legislature needs to fix it. I encourage all members of all school boards to stop the process of closing or “repurposing” small schools. Demand that our legislators go back to the drawing board and revise this destructive and divisive piece of legislation. Before you destroy our small towns, destroy Act 46.
Joyce Dicianna
Starksboro
 
 

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