*Originally posted on Front Porch Forum
Thoughts on Closing Local Community Schools
No matter how you say it, when the elementary school of a town shuts its doors on its students and sends them to another community, that school is closed. Changing the name of the local school building or its purpose doesn't change that fact.
I am working hard at not being cynical about the intent of the proposed "innovation sites." There's enough cynicism in our country without my adding to it. Besides that, it doesn't feel good. However, accepting the stated intent of the proposed innovation sites presents a heck of a challenge.
The teachers I know in our district are very capable of innovative teaching and of creating and gathering innovative materials for their kids. What they need to be more innovative is support in the form of time and funding. While I am delighted to hear that our district supports innovation, I can't believe that establishing distant outposts to which students are occasionally bussed is a viable solution.
I haven't heard anything about what the innovation priorities are except that they might include hands-on experiences. Hands-on teaching and learning need to occur every day, especially for younger students who are making the transition from the concrete to the abstract. (Perhaps we all are.)
Gerald Masterson speaks to the taxes that he and the rest of us must pay and he states that he is moving from Lincoln as a result. He makes an eloquent case for the value of local schools and their heritage. I hope that he changes his mind about moving away from Lincoln. Whatever I pay in taxes to various authorities, I know that the local portion is the best-spent. The Lincoln Community School is truly an outstanding school by any measure and I am proud to support it. Our school has a gifted staff who care deeply about our students and our students flourish. In no way will their experience be replicated in another out of town school building. That doesn't mean that other schools don't serve their own students well but even transplanting trees has mixed results.
The pandemic has brought the Zoom medium to the mainstream. It has helped to keep some institutions functioning albeit with substantial limitations. In no way do transactions on Zoom have the same quality as people being together in the same room. To make a decision as momentous as closing local schools via input from Zoom, emails, polls and letters is a really poor idea. There's absolutely no doubt that the Town of Lincoln will be forever changed if the Lincoln Community School closes. I urge the Mount Abraham Unified School District Board to postpone any decision to close any school until everyone concerned with this issue is able to meet in person, review all of the pertinent data together and thoroughly discuss the many ramifications of closing local schools.