To the Editor:
Vermonters are too polite by half when it comes to hard conversations with their neighbors. Right now, there is a tiny minority of very vocal Fayston and other valley folks who are dominating the public conversation around school closure. Understandably, they want to keep their school for a variety of personal reasons.
But there’s also a much larger, private conversation happening among Waterbury and Duxbury residents, who are wondering why it makes any sense to subsidize what is essentially a private school in Fayston. Why would we want to pay for a remote school that has lost one-third of its students over the past five years? Why are we OK with sending our tax dollars down to Fayston to pay for what can only be described as a superior education, with minuscule class sizes, while we pay just over half as much to educate our own sons and daughters?
It shouldn’t be a surprise to the sharp folks in Fayston that we’re not OK with it. And we have the votes and the clout to readjust this absurd circumstance and in the process vastly improve the secondary schools in the district to the benefit of every pupil.
And by the way, Harwood needs a renovation — kids at Fayston today will benefit from that renovation during their last and vital few years of pre-college schooling.
I’m hearing lots of very touching emotional appeals about Fayston Elementary and that’s something no facts or accounting can counter. Emotional arguments are not susceptible to math or budgets.
But that’s not the conversation the rest of us are having. We don’t have an emotional argument. Notably, I’m not hearing the argument that Fayston might pay for its own elementary school in the form of a special Fayston tax. I’m not hearing that for a good reason: Fayston residents don’t want it.
Welcome to the party, Fayston! Neither do Duxbury or Waterbury residents intend to keep paying for Fayston’s special school out of our tax dollars. Good to agree on something.
I have to wonder: There are only 60 students left at Fayston, with a per-pupil cost of $29,000-plus, at what point would Fayston diehards throw in the towel? At 50 students and $35,000 per pupil? At 30 students and $60,000 per pupil? One student at $1 million? Never?
The people who are paying for your school have already hit their limit. Plan accordingly.