Education Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Towns should have final say

Monday evening, February 13th, the Addison Central School Board will discuss and likely vote on three options for school closure determination. 1) Maintain the status quo, 2) a board vote followed by a determining vote by voters throughout the district, or 3) a board vote followed by a determining vote by voters within the affected town. This follows on a petition signed by 608 voters, to allow district voters to resolve the question of school closure determination. The school board elected to make this determination themselves. Status quo, closure by a supermajority vote on the school board, is clearly unacceptable as the issue will not go away if left unresolved.

If one believes in equality in the broadest sense, one might support the idea of a district-wide vote. After all, we all share in the tax burden to support our schools. However, if one considers equity, it quickly becomes clear that the determining vote should lie with voters in the effected town, which will realize a far greater impact through closure than any other town.

Offering the final say to the voters in the district at large would ask a large number of voters with limited motivation to weigh in along with a small number of highly invested voters in one town. If, for example (and, please, this is purely hypothetical), the Cornwall School were slated for closure, I, as a resident of Shoreham, would be less inclined to study the real value of Cornwall’s elementary school. My vote would not be as well thought out as those votes cast in Cornwall.

I urge the Addison Central School Board to vote to combine a school board vote followed by a vote in the town in question. This would make it incumbent upon the school board to present a thorough and well-reasoned argument to the town in question that goes beyond saving pennies on the tax rate and considers both short and long-term consequences for our unique communities and especially the community that would shoulder by far the greatest impact of the decision. It would ensure that votes were cast by folks who are truly invested. We need to trust informed voters. The assumption that the voters in any given town would not vote to approve a school closure given a well-structured argument underestimates the intelligence of the small-town voter (or any informed voter for that matter).

Please encourage your School Board members to act to restore trust in our school politics. 5:30 p.m., Middlebury Union Middle School, 48 Deerfield Lane, Middlebury, 2.13.2023.

Peter Lynch


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