2019-2020 and 2020-2021, the New Union District shall not close any school...unless first approved by the voters residing in the town(s) in which the school is located.
August 7, 2019
Dear Orleans Southwest Union Elementary School District (OSUED) community member:
The purpose of this letter is to help clarify the status of our new district, its schools, and its students.
According to the OSUED Articles of Agreement, “in academic years 2019-2020 and 2020-2021, the New Union District shall not close any school...unless first approved by the voters residing in the town(s) in which the school is located.” “In academic year 2021-2022 and after, the New Union District Board shall not close any school...unless first approved by the electorate of the New Union District.” All three schools--Hardwick Elementary School, Lakeview Elementary School, and Woodbury Elementary School--will be open for business this fall.
I think most would agree that, over the next two years, it is doubtful any town in the New Union District will vote to close the school that is located in that town--community members take pride in their schools and want them to be successful learning environments for students and even hubs of social activity for adults. However, some are concerned that, after two years, the electorate of the New Union District, comprised of voters from all four district towns--Greensboro, Hardwick, Stannard, and Woodbury--might elect to close a school. Given the desire for towns to keep “their own” schools open, I would imagine a school closure would occur only if a majority of voters in one or two towns vote to close a school in another town.
In a sense, the New Union District structure has dismantled the boundaries between towns by making all three schools and all of their students “our own” now. Two years from now, unless community members in all four towns are thinking of all three schools as their own schools, and all of the students in those schools as their own students, the scenario described above could potentially result in a school closure. Over the next two years, our goal will be to design an interdependent three-school model that will ensure each school remains viable, open, and thriving. I will be working with building administration who in turn will be working with staff to help forge an OSUED identity and culture while preserving the individual identities and cultures of each of our individual schools. We have hired innovative building leaders who will be engaging staff and students in new ways to think about utilizing these three campuses and each of their unique resources and talent in a new model of learning that will ensure greater equity for student access to learning while creating more diverse and engaging learning experiences for all students. This, not closing schools, is the purpose of the merged district.
Regardless of the success of our work at the school level, the decision to close schools will ultimately reside with you, the electorate. We live in an era when communication and technology have enabled us to be members of multiple communities--local, state, national, global, and sundry in between. It is essential that, if we want to keep “our own” school open two years from now, we begin to think of ourselves as community members of both the town in which we live and the larger, more diverse multi-town district of which we are now a part.
If you have questions about our New Union District or the work we are embarking on, please contact either me or any of the principals:
Hardwick Elementary School: Patrick Pennock, firstname.lastname@example.org Lakeview Elementary School: Justine Guthrie, email@example.com Woodbury Elementary School: Craig Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you, and enjoy the rest of your summer-
Superintendent of Schools
Orleans Southwest Supervisory Union