Letter: A Radical Change for Vermont

To the Editor:

A Vermont bill that would eliminate 282 local school soards in favor of consolidation into 45 regional boards, with just one representative from each town, is making its way through the state House of Representatives. If this bill were to become law, schools in a district such as Orange/Windsor, which now comprises Tunbridge, Chelsea, Royalton, Sharon and Strafford and potentially in Bethel and Rochester, would have one representative from each town deciding how the schools in these very different communities are run.

The chair of the House Education Committee has made clear that there are no demonstrable cost savings in this bill. The change in school district governance is being pushed as way to make it easier on administrators, as well as possibly to increase educational opportunities. Evidence from other states that have eliminated local school boards and consolidated governance suggests that costs increase and the overall quality of education does not improve.

I do not recall any legislators running on a platform of mandatory elimination of local school boards. This would be a radical change to the way things have been done in Vermont for more than 100 years. Before such a law is passed in Montpelier, at the very least our representatives and senators, if they favor the elimination of local school boards, need to explain before the next election why they support such a position, run on that issue, and give voters a chance to determine if they want this fundamental change in their communities.

John Freitag

South Strafford