In Region 12, folks have been known to bicker during Board of Education meetings.

Strong disagreements have permeated the dialogue on many issues.

Yet some residents of the region's three towns -- Washington, Roxbury and Bridgewater -- say they are committed to the school district's future.

"We're a family," Roxbury First Selectman Barbara Henry said. "Sometimes we get along. Sometimes we don't.

"We live in a state where the governor says every community wants its own fiefdom. That may be the case, but we're all committed to our region and our schools."

Monday, Henry participated in a panel discussion at Shepaug Valley School with Carolan Dwyer of Bridgewater and Dan Sherr of Washington.

The three represented their towns in addressing the quirks and superlatives that define the region.

Region 12 is facing a sharply declining student population and escalating per-pupil costs.

Shepaug Valley School, the middle/high school, has applied to the state to conduct the 20th agriscience program in Connecticut.

The goal would be to boost student numbers and continue Shepaug's traditionally vibrant educational atmosphere.

"It would be a great addition," Dwyer said. "There is a lot of job growth in the field of agriculture, whether in horticulture, golf turf maintenance. An agriscience education would give young people the ability to find jobs locally, following a tradition in Litchfield County, while stabilizing and refreshing the field.

"Bioscience is a field of the future, and the focus of STEM programs, which Shepaug would offer."

Dwyer is running a public relations campaign to bring young families into Bridgewater. She noted its success, saying many homes sold in the town of 1,700 over the last two months.

Henry said home sales also are up in Roxbury.

"We want the region to survive," Henry said. "We have to embrace change and keep promoting all of the great things about our schools."

Sherr agreed.

"When we talk about where the schools are, we have to include that there is a zero increase in the proposed school budget," he said. "The idea of scaling back cost in relationship to decreasing student numbers is key. A great job has been done of putting this philosophy in place."

Region 12 has three elementary schools -- in Bridgewater, Roxbury and Washington -- as well as Shepaug Valley High School.

stuz@newstimes.com; 203-731-3352