Education Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Don’t close small schools; focus on cutting costs

Please understand. Small towns do not want to withdraw from unified school districts. But under threat of closure, they currently have no other choice if they want to keep their schools open. And now that small schools are fighting back and creating ways to save their schools, the state is looking at ways to close even those newly created options. They want total control. Ideally a small town should have a solid plan in place before leaving their district. But these are uncharted waters and first the towns need the independence and ability to research and develop charts and models that work.

It has been disheartening to watch unified school boards in Addison County trying to solve financial problems by closing schools in towns where closure is not wanted. I recently read a FPF post where a school board member basically said, (paraphrasing here) if they want to leave — good riddance — let them sink. I was appalled by the tone of that post. It went on to say that losing the small town(s) would give the district the opportunity to reinvent itself. What about looking at ways to reinvent itself that don’t involve losing the smallest schools?

Granted, there has been a lot of hard work and community outreach over the past few years. But in my opinion, that difficult work now needs to re-focus on how to keep schools while reducing costs, not closing schools. Let’s look at other ways to reduce our tax burden that won’t affect our elementary age children.

No one should have the power or authority to close a town’s school except the residents of that town. Our small-town schools are precious. They’re often the center of the community. Just as the larger town schools are. There are pros and cons to each. I hope the unified boards stop fighting the small towns and begin to work with them to help them keep their youngest residents close to home in their earliest years of learning. Perhaps we need to vote new members with fresh ideas on to our school boards to begin new discussions because the old ideas that are constantly bantered about are ripping our districts apart.

Remember that as you cast your votes on Town Meeting Day.

Joyce Dicianna

South Starksboro

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