Wardsboro without a school: That is the risk as Act 46 moves forward.
With the upcoming vote on consolidation, we are on the verge of losing control of our school. If Wardsboro, Marlboro, and Dover vote yes, we in Wardsboro will have minority representation on the new district board.
If only Wardsboro and Dover vote yes, we will still be at a disadvantage: Dover has twice the student population of Wardsboro and, after the 2020 census, that town will most likely have the controlling votes on the new board.
Given one town’s superior position, it is difficult to believe that the concerns of both will be given equal weight.
Promises that consolidation will give students more opportunity and will save money are not supported by evidence, and many proposed efficiencies and improvements can be or already are accomplished by simple agreements between schools without any state intervention.
Even if our school stays open for the near future, we will not have a Wardsboro school per se. We will house one location within an expanded campus of education, answerable to a bureaucracy, a level above us, which will control any decision to be made at the local level.
If the Boy Scouts want to hold a meeting in the school, they will need out-of-town concurrence. If a parent has a concern, a discreet resolution with local board members will be subject to outside scrutiny. The town culture, as embodied in our school, will be homogenized into a one-size-fits-all model that plays into the statewide drive for control.
With the loss of our small school — the intended consequence of many who forced Act 46 upon us — we will see the soul of our town fade away. Fewer young families will move in, resulting in less economic activity and a decrease in property values.
But most importantly, our children in their youngest years will forfeit the security of a home base. They will be bussed long hours on questionable roads in a variety of weather conditions.
At the last informational meeting on consolidation, a lifelong resident said to me on the way out of Town Hall, “I didn’t like this idea before the meeting, and I like it less now.”
I agree, and that is why I am voting no on March 7.
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