I live in Moretown, and I value all of the schools in the Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD). I refuse to let the district office and several members of the school board convince us to vote for the closure of Fayston Elementary School as some sort of offset for their pre-K-12 modeling “process.”

Join me in advocating for the future of Fayston’s school. It will help our district create a more dynamic vision; it will honor the students and families currently enrolled, and it makes a lot of financial sense.

Our towns and our schools are not static. What I mean is that you can’t look at the number of students in a given school and pretend that this number exists in a vacuum. The district office will tell you that Fayston is too small and that it is predicted to stay too small. What they won’t tell you is their part in that prediction. They’ve threatened to cut teachers, they’ve ignored family advocacy, they’ve refused to allow third-graders who want to be at the school from attending, and they continue to push rhetoric about a school closure.

We need new leadership and a new narrative. Imagine if, instead of beating Fayston down at every decision point, we, as an HUUSD, decided to try to leverage our strengths?

Fayston Elementary School is an amazing place. It’s situated at the base of Mt. Ellen, and this location has led its leaders to create and partner on outdoor and environmental literacy programs that are lauded around the state. The building itself is beautiful as well, which is no small detail when other schools in our district are in need of bonding (financial and physical). The students at the school have also consistently scored extremely high (top five in VT) on the various and ever-changing standardized tests that the state adopts, and current and former parents/caregivers rave about their children’s experiences.

Instead of searching for ways to close the school and selling it back to its town for $1 (talk about a lost investment!), we should be looking to model and scale this success. We should be thinking about growth of services and programs rather than austerity and attrition.

What if Fayston had a language immersion program that families across the district could choose to attend? Or how about arts immersion? Or STEM? Or, what if we advertised the power of the outdoor education program in cities near and far, showing young families that their child would be better off growing up in the Mad River Valley?

Some of you may scoff, but if we worked on some of these ideas (or any number of others all of you and our amazing teachers and students could co-construct) and created the most robust, equitable, inclusive and culturally responsive schools in the state, you might be surprised how many new families show up at a place like Fayston.

Let’s invest in our future with open schools at the heart of our communities.

Langella lives in Moretown, Vermont.