Education Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Ballot warning on school merger is incomplete

The MAUSD Board and Merger Committee assert our Nov. 8 vote will be on the Articles of Agreement ONLY, not whether to combine schools or move students. In reality the 11/8/22 Warning overtly lists only some of the articles that voters would be approving if they vote “yes” on the proposed merger. The Final Report and Articles of Agreement document (E on Warning) can be found, in their entirety here: These articles include additional language that permits combining schools and more — in some cases without our vote.

Please consider the following:

1. F4 of the Warning and Article 14B (Articles of Agreement) should be read carefully. Within the definition of “school closing” the new school board actually has authority to remove up to three grade levels from any elementary school and move them to any other school in the new district, even in the first year of operation, without a town vote.

The articles state a school “cannot be closed for all grades K-5” for the first four years “without a town vote.” What about grade 6? All MAUSD elementary schools are currently K-6. This allows the board the authority to “expand grades served at the middle level,” a reference to the Merger Committee’s intent to enable moving all grade 6 students to a merged middle school in Vergennes or Bristol.

These actions would cripple smaller schools. Four years is relatively short in terms of local vote for school closure. After that, smaller towns lose much of their voice in a district-wide vote and are subject to the will of the board on which they are minimally represented.

2. Article 7B addresses selling buildings that are no longer needed to the local town for $1 (stipulating it be used for community and public purposes). Wouldn’t maintaining or repurposing a former school be costly and ultimately impact our taxes? And, if the town found it couldn’t bear the cost and sold it within five years, the town would owe the district any improvement costs. Wouldn’t that impact our taxes?

3. The Merger Committee stresses the importance and value of our teachers. Yet Article 5B allows the district to re-assign teachers to new locations after the first year. Wouldn’t that potentially be “deal-breakers” for some teachers based on assignment or commute? Those who already work in multiple schools might further be stretched thin.

I have volunteered at Robinson Elementary school for 28 years. As a young parent, it was the way I got to know folks and get involved in my community. The idea of that connection disappearing for new and current community members is heartbreaking. Despite attempted assurances, there is plenty of information and contingencies that suggest an eventual closure for my town’s school.

Respectfully submitted,

Lisa Daudon


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