Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Cornwall man seeks answers from ACSD

In a letter in last week’s Addison Independent, I raised a question for the Addison Central School District superintendent, regarding the facilities planning process, which I had asked many times without receiving an answer.
At the end of my letter, an editor’s note stated that I had finally received an answer, but it did not say what the answer was. I thought I should follow up by giving readers the same explanation I received.
My question was why the superintendent had not publicly shared that his primary reason for supporting a new mix of schools, which added Cornwall and removed Bridport from the district’s consolidation plan, was to head off Cornwall’s draft withdrawal petition, given his concern that a town’s withdrawal could cause ACSD to revert to ACSU.
In his one-sentence answer, the superintendent said that his concern about reversion to an SU structure was about withdrawal in general, “not specifically which town might eventually withdraw.”
However, the records I received on this matter indicate that the superintendent was seriously concerned about Cornwall’s withdrawal effort in particular, which was gaining steam at the time the mix of schools was changed, before efforts in other towns had picked up.
For example, in forwarding one email about the Cornwall withdrawal petition titled “Signatures needed to support keeping Cornwall School open,” the superintendent said, “We have to stop it before it does damage.”
In another forward, of the same Cornwall-related message, the superintendent stated, “This is a real disaster.”
And in a third message, again of the same Cornwall petition, the superintendent said, “This would unravel our entire district as all the privileged towns withdraw to avoid having their school closed.”
There were no such messages in the record regarding any other town’s withdrawal efforts at the time, as they had not fully picked up by then. In other words, it appears that there was indeed specific concern, at the time the mix was changed, about the potential withdrawal of one particular town.
Moreover, the superintendent expressed his concern about possible reversion to ACSU in a conversation with the business manager that specifically focused on changing the mix of schools.
The full quote from the business manager, only part of which I included in last week’s letter, was, “I will let you know how convo goes with transportation consultant. I can see a way forward if we strategize correctly. I also remain unconvinced that a town leaving wouldn’t revert us to an SU structure. That’s my main concern.”
As I noted last week, the superintendent replied, “Mine, too.”
Following this conversation, the transportation consultant was directed to include Cornwall in both new models he analyzed.
As I have previously stated, I was happy to see Cornwall added to the mix, but not at the expense of removing an underrepresented neighboring town at the last minute before closure votes were scheduled, as they had been prior to the process being paused.
I may have received a brief answer to my single, repeated question, but in light of the records discussed here, other serious questions remain. I hope these questions will be answered fully and honestly, so that faith in the process can begin to be restored.
Chris Kramer
Cornwall

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