Wardsboro without a school, 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 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, 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.” 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 discrete 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 which plays into the state-wide 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, and with the lack of young families moving in, less economic activity, and a decrease in property values.
But most important, our children in their youngest years will forfeit the security of a home base to be bused long hours on questionable roads in a variety of weather conditions.
At the last informational meeting on consolidation, a life-time 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.