Education Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: School district merger fans, foes share same goals

The Starksboro Save Our Schools Committee (SSOS) is grateful that so many voters in our communities turned out to vote and agreed that this is not the time to endorse a merger between MAUSD and ANWSD. We also want to express our respect for the hard work of the Merger Study Committee, and for the voters who endorsed the merger. While we may disagree on solutions, we acknowledge our school districts face many difficult problems that are not easy to fix. 

We wish to thank the many, many members of the MAUSD and ANWSD communities who spent much time and energy becoming informed about these complex issues and engaged in helping their neighbors become informed. We are hopeful that our communities can work together, within MAUSD towns and across the MAUSD and ANWSD districts, to find ways to control costs, expand learning opportunities for students, and increase student enrollment by attracting young families to our school districts.

In addition, we are encouraged to know that the MAUSD Administration is continuing its work with Nate Levenson on implementing the substantial cost-saving strategies described in the New Solutions K-12 report prepared for MAUSD. We are eager to see how some of the results of this work will be integrated into next year’s budget.

We believe that whether people voted for or against the merger we share common goals. These include: 

• Solving fiscal challenges while slowing tax rate growth.

• Expanding engaging learning opportunities.

• Ensuring equity for students.

• Maintaining reasonable class sizes.

• Maintaining strong school-community connections.

MAUSD first proposed to close elementary schools and merge the two school districts in December 2020. Since that time, we have seen some significant disagreements related to the roles of the School Board and the Superintendent, and related to the relationship between the District and the community. Many times it has seemed that people were talking past each other, with little opportunity for meaningful dialogue. As a result, many see conflict and division where one would hope for collaboration and respect. We believe this is a good moment in time to build trust and to talk about what needs to change in order to offer all of our students the educational opportunities they deserve. We look forward to engaging in the work ahead.

Starksboro Save Our Schools Committee:

Erin Buckwalter

Denny Casey

Nancy Cornell

Louis Dupont

Margi Gregory

Neily Jennings

Susan Klaiber

Herb Olson

Chanda Rochon

Chris Runcie

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