Even by Vermont standards, Windham Elementary is a tiny school.
The two-classroom building employs two full-time teachers, one of whom works as the principal and the other as an administrative assistant. During the 2020-21 year, the K-6 school had only nine students— the smallest enrollment of any public school in Vermont, according to state data. This fall, enrollment has risen to 16.
But despite its size, the tiny school has been at the center of a bitter battle among residents of the hilly Windham County town. Over the past few months, Windham’s roughly 400 residents have seen heated town meetings, frayed friendships and claims of improper voting, all over one question:
Should the school be closed?
“It has divided the town,” said Mickey Parker-Jennings, principal and teacher at Windham Elementary. “The town is almost split right down the middle.”
Faced with dwindling enrollment and state pressure to consolidate with neighboring districts, rural Vermonters have grappled with what to do with small schools.
Last year, Windham Elementary was one of half a dozen schools across the state with fewer than 30 students, and one of only two with fewer than 20 students, according to state data.[…]In Windham, a battle over one of Vermont’s smallest schools — VTDigger