Education Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Conlon reflects on his time on the ACSD board

Editor’s note: The following is a modified version of Peter Conlon’s final comments at the Jan. 9 Addison Central School District board meeting.

It was with mixed feelings that I resigned last week from the Addison Central School District board. After 17 years on the ACSD board and the UD-3 board before that, I look back with real pride on the accomplishments of our district’s vision for a unified education system. 

We came together with overwhelming public support, and have enjoyed strong public support in every budget vote since unification. We have put in place a strong educational framework that touches all kids in all grades with our International Baccalaureate program. It has been simply amazing to hear teachers and students of all ages share a common educational language and common goals so soon after we were a group of separately governed schools whose visions, curriculum and strategies were strong but different — something that was clear as our students came together in middle school. 

Our unified system was also key to the district managing what has been a difficult and chaotic COVID-19 period. It allowed our educators to tackle problems where they flared up, both quickly and effectively. Had we not been a unified educational system, this would not have been possible. 

I am very proud of this board’s work and support for our ever-improving school system and even more proud to support our educators as they have managed unprecedented change and challenges.

But I worry.

The ACSD is facing potentially significant change as we prepare for the prospect of a superintendent search that will coincide with what is shaping up to be significant turnover on this board on Town Meeting Day. This has the potential to both change our district’s unified forward motion and the culture of the board.

Board candidates with financial and political support from organizations seeking to disrupt the ACSD board’s work will likely gain more seats. Those folks may be more focused on returning to an unsustainable past than looking to the future as one learning community. It will be incumbent on the remaining and returning board members to continue a culture of unity, to continue a responsibility to all of the citizens of all seven towns, and to continue the impressive progress this district has made to make it the envy of so many others in Vermont.

I sincerely wish my board colleagues success and smooth sailing as they navigate some tricky waters ahead. And I hope to return to the board soon as an invited guest to speak about the goings on in the state capital. Thank you to my board colleagues past and present for making this a rich and rewarding experience. 

Peter Conlon

Cornwall

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