Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Trust voters on school closures

An open letter to the Addison Central School District Board of Directors:

We believe our organization shares a vision with the ACSD board to embrace a single educational community that is stronger together. SOS also believes that to be more inclusive and culturally responsive we must find better ways to empower each town’s identity within our larger educational community. In fact, we believe that honoring the autonomy and identity of each of our towns is foundational in order to move forward as a single educational community, just as teachers celebrate the differences each student brings into a class.

We request that any change to Article 14, the process to close schools, requires a supermajority vote of the ACSD board as well as a majority vote of the town in which the school is located. These specific changes would be a paradigm of Vermont’s state motto: “Freedom & Unity” — and it would finally put this issue to rest, so that future board work and elections may look far beyond this conversation.

Save Our Schools LLC was formed over two years ago as a grassroots organization to uplift small-town voices within this ACSD educational community due to an imbalance of power reflected in the vast discrepancy between voter bases across our seven towns.

Currently the town of Middlebury has 5,860 registered voters. The other six towns collectively hold 4,927 registered voters, giving Middlebury the majority in the District by 933 votes. Middlebury has 4,850 more voters than Cornwall, which has the largest voter checklist of the six small towns. What these numbers demonstrate is that Middlebury can carry virtually any district-wide vote on a school closure and critically affect the district’s smallest and most vulnerable towns.

At the Oct. 24, 2022, ACSD Board meeting, a motion was tabled to be taken up at the next meeting scheduled for Nov. 14. That motion was to amend Article 14 to close a school by taking a district-wide vote, which will inevitably pit towns against each other. We find such ideas and a proposed vote to be premature and in need of further discussion, so we ask that as the meeting on Nov. 14 gets underway, the motion be withdrawn or amended. If amended, we ask that the motion take into consideration the strong, widespread support for each ACSD town to have a vote in order to ratify a closing or repurposing of a school in its town.

In addition, we are eager to engage in dialogue and collaborate with you on a potential revision to this Article of Agreement. We look forward to that opportunity with the ACSD Board.

Sincerely,

Save Our Schools LLC

President Millard Cox, Ripton

Secretary Chris Kramer, Cornwall

Treasurer Michele Fay, Ripton

Board Members Tanya Scuteri and Ruth Bernstein of Shoreham

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