Stop the madness

To the Editor:

Since the long ago days when I went to school at Concord High School not much has changed. The town stands divided by the constant desire to close the high school. I remember being a student wondering day to day if I was going to have to spend my senior year somewhere else and honestly the idea haunted me. I feel for the students still dealing with this issue today. I know exactly what they are going through.

Unlike other letters you may have received I am not going to preach my thoughts and force my ideas onto others, this letter comes as more of a peace offering than a battle cry. I understand that there are students whose needs may not be met at Concord, and I don't blame those parents for wanting the best for their children. I do however get defensive when they try to force their ideas onto my children, which love Concord School and want to continue their education there. Why should my children have to suffer to benefit the needs of other children in the town?

With that being said I want to recognize the fact that this situation that has been continuing for 20 years is never going to change until everyone in this town recognizes that we are a diverse community with many different needs and everyone's needs can only be met if we meet half way. Life is never easy and more often than not you have to give a little to get a little.

For the first time in the history of this problem some very clever people, our school board, have proposed an option that actually puts everyone's interest at heart. I applaud them for being the first group of people in this town to look at the big picture and find a common ground. They have included in next years school budget money to tuition out those whose needs can not be met at Concord. I can only hope that the people of this town will embrace this solution and recognize it needs to become a yearly policy for this school choice option, so that the children attending Concord High School do not have to worry every year that they have to leave a school that they hold dear to their hearts.

I have listened for months to people complain about how much this will cost and I know these are tough times, so instead of gossiping and jumping on the rumor band wagon I chose to educate myself. I have talked with school board members, gone over the budget and figured out exactly what this would cost me for my child to have "school choice". The average price of tuition to other schools is approximately $14,000. At first this number made me cringe a little, but then I learned we get $8700 from the federal government per kid we tuition out, so we as tax payers only cover the difference, which is $5300. At this point there are approximately 8 students who are requesting tuition to other schools which is a total of $42,400. Now when we separate that among taxpayers that means we have to pay a measly .087 cents per $100 of our property value to offer school choice. For me this ends up being $104.40 which is what I would spend on a pair of my daughters basketball shoes. For my children to remain an integral part of their school community and not just disappear in a sea of students at a more populated school by becoming just a number, to me this is worth it. I will sacrifice that little bit of money, which let's be honest most of us throw that amount away in a month to ensure my children get the options that are best for them and that other children in the town can get their needs met as well.

In short, please Concord townspeople approve the school budget let's finally put this issue behind us and act like adults and stop bickering like children like we have for the past 20 years. We are hurting no one but our children, why should they pay the price for our ignorance? Still have questions or doubts, educate yourself as I have, make an educated decision on voting day and look at the picture as a whole. Look out your window at your neighbor and think about his children's needs, should they be brushed aside just so your child can benefit? What about the needs of the rest of the students at Concord High School, do they matter? As a community lets band together and make the right decision that benefits everyone in town and not just ourselves. Approve the school budget and lets push for school choice and put this ugly feuding behind us. I know we all have it in us to think of the entire community and do the right thing. See you on voting day!

Shannon McCullough

Concord, Vt.

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