Education Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: ACSD parents seeks clarity on district vision

Addison Central School District, what is your vision?

With three small children who will enter the school system in the coming years, I hopefully read the recent article about the district’s facilities master plan. I combed through the many bullet points hunting for a vision of what the district would be able to offer to children by saving the money currently used to operate smaller schools. I was disappointed to discover that the document instead stated what we already know: That the seven elementary school model is fiscally challenging in the future. For those of us raising children, the big dollar amounts calculated by consultants to update the elementary, middle and high school facilities are not alone enough of an argument to close schools.

My hope would be that district leadership could lay out a persuasive vision of how our shared values for community schools would be optimized by consolidation. I want to know not just what will be taken away, but how increasing efficiency will allow us to improve our offering to students. Without addressing our shared values around education, the facilities master plan document seems to suggest that we would close schools to maintain the status quo in terms of our children’s experience at school. I would argue that maintaining the status quo isn’t good enough. The situation at our middle school this year should serve as a stark example of what happens when finances are prioritized over student experience.

As a parent and an educator I have specific questions that will ultimately guide my opinion on closing schools. How will we ensure small class sizes so that children can feel known and cared for? How will we provide emotional support for children in the wake of the pandemic? What programming will our children benefit from if money is saved? How will cost-saving measures allow us to continue working toward the belief that our schools should be joyful spaces where children come to grow and love learning? I am a community member eager for responses to these questions and I can only hope that those guiding policies affecting our children would be ready to provide answers.

Claire Benjamin

Middlebury

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