As announced to students and families Friday by Superintendent Amy Minor, a Black Lives Matter flag will be flown at each school in the Colchester School District during the 2020-21 school year.
The district’s school board unanimously voted July 7 to raise the flag after board member Lindsey Cox brought the idea to the board June 16 and after dozens of CSD community members shared their thoughts.
“I brought the proposal to the board for a variety of reasons, but mainly because I thought it necessary for the board to use this as a symbol of our commitment to anti-racist education,” Cox said.
In a letter to students and families July 31, Minor reassured students, faculty and families that even though the district is currently swept up in formulating reopening plans for the upcoming school year, it is still committed to addressing issues of racial equity.
“You will soon see the BLM flag raised across our campuses as a small step towards helping our black students and families feel safe and welcome,” Minor stated in the letter. “It is our hope that raising the BLM flag demonstrates our commitment to the ongoing need for anti-racist education and conversations.”
Cox’s originally proposal implored the board to look at its own privilege, and reminded the members of the power it holds.
“Our children are watching,” Cox wrote in the statement she read June 16. “How are we, as elected leaders and white people in a place of power and privilege, going to stand in solidarity and hold ourselves accountable to the vision we have been elected to uphold? Raising the Black Lives Matter flag can be our first small step.”
During the July 7 board meeting, where the flag-raising was approved, CSD’s five board members heard from a variety of people in the community.
Colchester Education Association Co-Presidents Tara Sharkey and Kate Ellingson called into the meeting and gave their unwavering support for the flying of BLM flags. They also supplied the board with 20 letters representing 41 CEA members.
Sixteen letters sent by current students, alumni, parents, and community members were also read aloud at the meeting. One of the letters was signed by 80 English learner students. All but one of the letters were in support of flying the flag.
Director of Student Support Services Carrie Lutz read a statement from the Association of Colchester Administrators expressing their unified support for flying the BLM flag at each of their schools.
“Most of the board was receptive and open to listening and learning,” Cox said. “Many thought it was important that we take this action.”
At the July 7 meeting, school board member Craig Kieny shared his full support of raising the flags, and asked that the motion to raise the flags not be limited to a one-year time frame.
Board member Curt Taylor said flag-raising was important, but that listening and having conversations about equity and anti-racism are even more valuable.
The motion was passed unanimously, with the agreement that the raising of BLM flags at all schools be reviewed on an annual basis in order to promote further engagement with the community.
The flags will be raised at each school in the CSD district before the first day of school in September, but might be raised as early as next week, Cox said.