(HOST) On November 7th, Weathersfield voters agreed to finance the transition from two schools to one, for grades K through 8, since Weathersfield doesn’t have a high school. Commentator Edith Hunter says it’s the end of an era.
(HUNTER) It has taken Weathersfield 200 years to go from thirteen district schools to a single consolidated school.
Like most towns in Vermont, Weathersfield historically had a large number of district schools. Soon after 1800 the number reached thirteen where it remained for roughly 100 years. The plan was that no child should have to walk more than two miles, and the district lines were drawn to achieve this end.
Of Weathersfield’s thirteen district schools the first to close permanently was the Camp Hill School in 1892, followed four years later by the school at Kendrick’s Corner. Three other schools, mainly in thinly populated areas, closed in the early nineteen hundreds. Then another closed in 1932.
By the time the school in Weathersfield Bow, and two more near the Center, closed in the nineteen forties, the town was seriously into the business of transporting students. Then in 1965 the schools in Amsden and the Marsh closed leaving only two schools, Ascutney and Perkinsville, in the two major population centers of Weathersfield.
Changes were being made to these two schools as the other district schools were closing. Following an exhaustive study of school needs in 1954, with a minority in favor of a new single school at a central location, a three room building was built at a new location in Ascutney, and two rooms were added in Perkinsville to the 1879 brick school.
As enrollments grew in the early 1960s, two rooms, a kitchen and a basement, were added in Ascutney, and four classrooms and a multi-purpose room added in Perkinsville. In 1967 a mobile classroom was bought for Ascutney, and in 1968, four classrooms, a multi-purpose room, a library, and an administrative office were added in Ascutney. The mobile classroom soon moved to Perkinsville.
In another step toward unification, in 1971 the lower grades were all sent to Perkinsville and the upper grades to Ascutney. The Ascutney facility continued to grow. Volunteers added a room in 1988 and another mobile classroom was purchased in the 1990s.
The plan that was voted on Nov. 7th is to close the Perkinsville School, add a second floor to Ascutney, and make other additions and subractions to that building.
And so, in 200 years, Weathersfield will have gone from thirteen district schools, to one school in the northeast section of Weathersfield.
That education in Weathersfield will improve, remains to be seen.
Writer and historian Edith Hunter lives in Weathersfield Center.