Letter: Time to step back and reassess Act 46

Posted
Time to step back and reassess Act 46

Editor of the Reformer:

Now that the legislative session has come to a close, and for the moment our district WSESU has not been able to move to the quick track for implementation of Act 46, my unspoken deep reservations about this act need to be expressed. At Town Meeting I was impressed by the sincere hard work Putney School Board under Alice Laughlin's leadership to understand the Act and find a good answer for Putney in response to it. They explained how we might get some sorely needed tax relief if we buckled up hard and worked to find a way forward with the other towns in our district. We now know that option is closed.

I would like us all to step back now. I am not in the least convinced that this particular plan is the way for our district to go forward at all. Our town meeting was lively and interesting. Now that I no longer have children at Putney Central I get a fresh up-front picture of how the school is doing during this annual visit. Lively art on the walls, bikes hanging in the gym for exercise during the lunch break and we had direct experience of the farm to school lunch program. Our town values were on display. Without the school board we will be denied this experience. We won't hear the conversation with parents and the school board, and we will lose more connection to our children and the school. I imagine others in other towns feel the same. They are proud of their schools and their particular reflection of each town's care for it's children.

Consolidation does not necessarily mean savings. It does mean centralization of decision making that may not be in the least sensitive to local needs or perspectives.

I would charge that the House and Senate take another look at ACT 46 with the idea of preserving local participation and control, with the understanding that our children are not commodities. We do need as a state to guarantee that all children have fair access to excellent education. But this is not merely a matter of putting administration in fewer hands. It is a matter of insuring well trained, well paid educators, equal access to high quality infrastructure including arts library and physical education facilities for all our children.

Do not take away town level connection and voice.

Sincerely,

Julia Forsythe Putney, May 23


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