Education Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Whelan-Wuest looks to forge bond with ACSD voters

In January the ACSD school board appointed me to fill the vacant Cornwall seat on the board and I am running in the March 7th election to remain in this position. In the time I have been on the board I have met with parents, educators and community leaders to learn about the strengths of our district, our challenges, and the needs of our students. Every conversation leaves me full of ideas and hope for what we can do together.

I do not come to this role with my mind set on solutions. I am open minded and humble about what I need to learn from prior work and others’ expertise. I do come with an appreciation for the complex challenges facing our district, and a core belief that it is our collective responsibility to make sure all of ACSD’s students and staff are successful and supported.

Our district stands at a crossroads. We need to balance our budget without the benefit of federal COVID funds, and our school facilities are in need of investment and renovations. Some folks are sure IB has advanced student achievement and established essential consistency across our schools, while others believe that IB is leaving many students behind and over-burdening our teachers. Many are concerned that maintaining all of our schools is draining scarce resources, while others worry that staff reductions linked to school consolidations might lead to another version of the crisis our students and staff have faced at MUMS. And, many people believe our district is falling short in how we provide students with the special education and individualized resources they need to succeed. Reasonable, passionate people with the best interests of our kids at heart stand on opposite sides of critical issues, and in the middle is our school board.

All of this may seem daunting, but my work with local boards and organizations has taught me about how much a group of committed Vermonters can get done when working together. In my career I have had the opportunity to assist states in analyzing data and systems to identify real, impactful solutions even when people stand opposed to many of the key issues. I am a good team member and I work hard. I am flexible, I ask questions and I listen to learn from others. And, I know that if we keep the success of all our kids as our north star then we can weather big changes with respect and care for everyone affected by them.

I am running to fill the Cornwall seat, but all ACSD voters will have a say in this election on March 7th, which means I would be working every day to earn the confidence and trust of everyone across our seven towns. Serving in this way would be a true honor and I hope you will choose me to represent you on the board.

Ellen Whelan-Wuest

Cornwall

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