Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Don’t further dilute local control; vote ‘no’ on merger

Back in 2017, a group of concerned citizens from Starksboro attempted to work with the newly formed Mt. Abe Unified School District (MAUSD) administration to address some energy efficiency opportunities at Robinson School. We had gathered estimates for installing heat pumps in the classrooms, solicited expert advice for keeping the existing boilers, procured an offer for a professional energy audit, lined up support from the Robinson School administration and teachers to incorporate learnings from these efforts in their curriculum, and secured backing from Efficiency Vermont. Starksboro would have taken significant steps towards reducing our carbon footprint by shifting the heating and cooling of our school from oil to our local solar panels, lowering our property tax payments for energy costs, educating and inspiring our students about the benefits of clean energy, and improving our school.

But the MAUSD administration shut us down. They spent $35,000 of the Robinson reserve funds on unnecessary new boilers and were not interested in supporting our local efforts to improve our school and community. Despite multiple on-going attempts, the local volunteers were not allowed to pursue improving the “District’s School.” As a result, we have suffered a frustrating loss of community “voice” and volunteerism and missed out on energy cost and carbon savings that could have been avoided had we not merged.

While this is a disappointing story from long ago, it likely portends what could only become an even greater loss of local voice and control with the merging of MAUSD and the Addison Northwest School District (ANWSD). With twice the number of towns in a new district and diluted representation from each town, we should expect any hopes of local decisions and community engagement regarding our schools to diminish significantly. 

Please don’t dilute our local control any further; vote no on the merger.

Richard Faesy

Starksboro

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