Another Opinion, Editorial

Regarding the School Board Meeting at Lakeview Elementary School:

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by Peter and Sandy Gebbie

GREENSBORO – Congratulations, Greensboro! you showed up at the recent OSUESD school board meeting as they were flirting with closing our school. Great job but be ready. I don’t think the board is done, especially as they are led by a superintendent that obviously would like to close the school. The way he led the charge created at least a decline of eight kids in the enrollment by pushing the potential closure to parents before the community was even made aware.

I only learned of the “options” facing Lakeview about two weeks ago from a post on Facebook from Lorelei Young Wheeler. A lot of people showed up to the meeting Thursday evening but I bet a lot more still don’t know about Lakeview’s possible closing.
I heard almost total support to keep the school open. A few Hardwick residents wanted it closed.

Did you know Hardwick, with more kids, more school board members and more voters could potentially do this. I didn’t. Maybe that rule needs re-visiting. Or maybe Lakeview needs to drop out of the unified district like Stowe did. I don’t know if this is possible but it’s something to consider.

The few people that wanted to close the school said Lakeview was a wonderful school but thought we needed to make a reasonable decision to close it since enrollment was declining. Seven grades are here, K-6, and only sixth grade had a lot of kids. So somebody, the school board, the principal, the superintendent knew enrollment was declining for some time. Why only now are we being informed of this and having the potential for school closure?

The school board said they have been talking about Lakeview’s declining enrollment for some time but have been unable to generate much interest. Well, we don’t have kids in the school anymore as they are all grown but is there a reason the board hasn’t tried to communicate their concerns to the community at large? Sorry but I’m not going to attend board meetings to hear you go over state mandates and test scores. I believe Hardwick wants to increase their enrollment, decrease their taxes and increase their own staff. If our school is so good and we’re willing to pay for it, why close it?

There are certainly enough negatives associated with closing the school: very little savings, kids spend more time on the bus, extracurricular activities will require parents to provide more transportation after school, it drains away perhaps the life blood of our town, young working class people won’t move here if there’s no school and this will harm businesses here in town trying to attract employees. Greensboro will become a town of retired folks.

Perhaps COVID alone decreased enrollment as people may have delayed having kids with so much sickness around. Certainly now students and teachers have left because the superintendent sounded the alarm bell that Lakeview was closing.

Assuming we win the battle on keeping Lakeview open (the school will remain open at this point for the coming year) what’s next? The school board said they need continued interest, energy and input from the community to address the issue of low enrollment. We need young people to move and stay here, like Mateo Kehler of Jasper Hill Farm said. The residents of Greensboro aren’t always a welcoming presence to new people. The first thing a new landowner does is post his or her land: no hunting, no trapping, no fishing, no trespassing (maybe fishing’s okay, they’re not furry). People coming here from out of state don’t want their fields spread. They don’t want their maples tapped, don’t want any trees cut, don’t want folks on their land except for cross country skiing. They don’t want any new business for fear it might cause noise or increased traffic. Thank God electric and telephone poles were installed decades ago!

I don’t by any means have the answers but maybe we need to loosen up zoning. Craftsbury doesn’t have zoning and they seem to be doing just fine. In fact Craftsbury has K-12 grades and graduated 17 this year. It feels like you can actually live and let live in Craftsbury. Maybe we should drain Caspian Lake and move it to another town and enjoy it from a distance.

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