Education Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Why Lincoln wants to withdraw from MAUSD

REP. MARI CORDES

In December of 2020, Superintendent Patrick Reen introduced a proposal to the Mount Abe Unified School District school board to repurpose three community schools. If implemented, this would have the effect of closing the schools as well as preventing town members of those community schools from voting on such a proposal — a vote that is guaranteed in the district unification agreement.

I believe that all, including Superintendent Reen and the MAUSD, have been working incredibly hard to address the challenges we currently face in managing education costs while maintaining high levels of excellence and equity in our schools. To be clear, the biggest costs in education are those we have little control over, such as providing health insurance to our amazing educators and staff.

But towns still do and should have local control over their schools. After extensive, sustained, inclusive and fair community engagement and impact assessment, Lincoln community members voted decisively in August 2021 to become an independent public school district by a vote of 525 to 172.

The next step in this process is for the other towns of MAUSD — Bristol, Monkton, New Haven and Starksboro — to ratify Lincoln’s decision by a simple majority vote. This vote will take place in each town on Town Meeting Day this coming March.

Because this is a very local decision, my role as a legislator, until now, has been intentionally to not take a public position, to support the process, communicate with community members about their positions on the matter, and continue to engage in education policies at the state level, such as my bill H.388: an act relating to income-based education funding, as well as pupil weighting, COVID resources, and spending threshold adjustments.

At this time I am stepping forward with my own position in support of Lincoln becoming an independent public school district, and to respectfully ask for your YES vote at your town meeting deliberations. I also support each town in MAUSD having that same right, knowing that the Starksboro community is engaging in a similar process.

You can find more information at Save Community Schools — https://www.savecommunityschools.org/ (Lincoln) and https://www.saveourschoolsvt.org/ (Starksboro) — and at MAUSD.org and by attending the following a Jan. 26 virtual informational meeting about the Lincoln decision, go online to wilsondow.zoom.us/j/96287454123?from=addon Meeting ID: 962 8745 4123. This meeting will be archived and viewable online afterward.

Rep. Mari Cordes
Lincoln

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