Change is Inevitable

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Towns in the Gazette’s coverage area are having conversations about housing, their schools, their access to emergency services and many other things. Those conversations often seem to happen in silos, unconnected with each other and a bigger picture view of the town’s future.

Cabot recently began a community conversation, initiated by the School Sustainability Committee to help avoid the recurring call for a vote to close some or all of the school.

Schools, historically considered the center of a community, have been consolidating and closing in Vermont for many years as one-room schools turned into graded schools, eventually becoming managed by union school districts, which move oversight further from the community being served.

Cabot recently sent out a request for bids to cover its emergency services needs when long-time provider Cabot Emergency Ambulance Service is based right in town. If that results in a change, decision-making there too will move further from the community served.

Greensboro is faced with seeing grades four and five move to Hardwick next year, leaving just K-3 and a dwindling student population, while some, mostly in other towns, have called for the school to close completely.

At the same time, a proposal to turn Greensboro’s former high school into housing is drawing vocal opposition, though it would fill a need that businesses and many town residents say is creating a crisis.

In Craftsbury, where there seems to be a thriving school, a community vision process is underway that is expected to produce a plan in the Fall that will help inform future school funding.

Meanwhile select boards are faced with new issues every day that take their attention, even as they have the added burden of working on flood recovery almost a year after last July’s historic deluge.

Vermont’s tax structure and school funding formulas are often blamed as the cause of local issues with schools and other things. Whatever the cause, changes are happening in Vermont’s small towns.

Despite those changes, conversations in those towns, and many others, do not seem to be widening their scope to look at the towns’ future as a whole.

Change is inevitable, how we prepare for it is up to us.

Paul Fixx, editor

ed. note: An earlier version of this editorial mistakenly indicated Greensboro students in grades four and five would move to Hardwick next year. Orleans Southwest Supervisory Union Communications Specialist, Lisa Stinson said, “The Mountain View Union Elementary School District board is pausing grades four, five and six at Lakeview Elementary for the 2024/2025 school year and giving the students a choice to attend either Woodbury Elementary or Hardwick Elementary. Transportation will be provided. Lakeview Elementary will be open for the 2024-2025 school year and will offer pre-K through 3rd grade classes.

Paul Fixx is editor of The Hardwick Gazette and lives in Hardwick.

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