To the Editor:

On Tuesday, April 2, Winhall residents gathered to decide whether to allow the Mountain School at Winhall (MSW) to purchase the building and land that it currently occupies.

By all accounts, voter turnout was exceptionally strong - more residents attended this Special Meeting than had attended any town meeting since residents voted to close the public school and reopen it as an independent school in 1997.

When the votes were tallied, the motion had failed by a vote of 122 to 78.

Understandably, emotions were strong, and the results of Tuesday night's vote came as a great disappointment to many Winhall residents.

Unfortunately, I have heard from a few sources that many MSW families believe that Maple Street families worked in concert to defeat the motion.

There is no evidence to support this, and hearing such rumors deeply saddens me. From my own observation, approximately 10-15 Maple Street parents attended the Special Meeting. I personally do not know how anyone else, other than my husband, voted. What I do know is that the topic of the Special Meeting was of great interest to the Winhall community and that many people felt compelled enough by the issue to come out on a Tuesday night and vote on it.

I am a firm proponent of school choice. I feel that, when schools engage in healthy competition for students, educational offerings improve and all students - regardless of the individual schools that they choose - benefit. Indeed, when I read about the curricular offerings at both MSW and Maple Street, I am grateful that we live in a community where families are afforded the freedom to choose the school that best meets the needs of their child. I wouldn't want it any other way.

I support MSW's desire to purchase its own building and understand how doing so will allow it to better serve its students. It is my hope, however, that MSW families view Tuesday night's result not as a rejection of their goals but as a sign that, with continued conversations, those goals may ultimately be fulfilled.

Jen Samuelson Winhall