To Whom It May Concern,
I am writing as a concerned citizen. I have been scouring your news and webpage for information about the proposed forced mergers of school districts due to Act 46, and I have not seen one article discussing it.
As an educator in a small school faced with this reality, I am incredibly concerned that our students will be the ones who will suffer the most. As an educator who sat in the Newark School last Wednesday to watch our school boards defend our schools against the State Board of Education, I am incredibly concerned that the majority of the population in the state does not know these meetings with the State Board of Education are happening and that communities are passionately speaking out against the proposed mergers.
Most people are unaware that mergers, forced mergers, could possibly be happening as soon as the 2019-2020 school year.
Many communities believe that since they voted against a merger, it will not happen. They are mistaken. These mergers will cause great changes to the way Vermont educates its children.
These will not be changes that save money nor increase educational outcomes.
Our school will be forced with the state’s proposal to merge our district with Brighton Elementary School. With this forced merger comes many uncertainties, including Articles of Agreement, ownership of buildings, tax rates, and even a potential of merging schools.
While many people who do not understand our small schools will not see an issue with a potential of merging schools, it would create many problems in our towns.
Many people choose to live in small towns so their students can attend a small school.
While the Secretary of Education is concerned about equity of education across our state, our children are in class sizes that you only see in private schools in Chittenden County.
The classes are small because towns are small and spread out.
In my classroom, I create a relationship with my students. I know their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, and their long-term goals for their lives.
I challenge any of my former teachers to say that they have had any relationship with me after they had me in their class.
I was raised in a town in Chittenden County and had a wonderful educational experience. I do not want to discount that. If you had asked me 8 years ago about merging schools and districts in the Northeast Kingdom, I would have said that it was a great idea and that the class sizes were too small.
However, after being embedded in this community, I have a better understanding as to why this will not work for our town.
I am not alone in this. There are small communities across the state who are struggling with this mandate.
I am asking you as our trusted news source in Vermont, please make our public aware of this situation.
I am not asking you to discuss political views. I am asking you to make the public aware of the mandates across the state.
I am asking you to watch the recorded footage on RETV and see for yourself the absurdity that has been posed across the state.
There are two more scheduled Act 46 community meetings – Aug. 15 at the statehouse and Sept. 19 at the Green Mountain High School in Chester.
Looking forward to your future coverage of Act 46.
Leigh Elliott, concerned educator.