Advocates for 'tuitioning out' in Region 12
Published 12:08 am, Wednesday, March 19, 2014
To the Editor:
A study of the tuition-out option for Shepaug students was sent Feb. 24 to the Region 12 Board of Education, the superintendent of schools for Region 12 and the selectmen and Boards of Finance in each town.
This study was conducted by two citizens of Bridgewater and the transmittal letter was signed by 16 residents of the region, including three former selectmen and five former Board of Education members.
Keep in mind the region's goal is to solve the problems of rising costs, declining enrollment and inefficient facilities.
This study outlines the benefits of the tuition-out option, which has not been evaluated by the region, and the transmittal letter requests a detailed study be done in collaboration with the school district and the boards of finance.
After the consolidated school referendum in April fails, the school board should focus on the tuition-out alternative.
This study projects an annual savings of $7,300 per Shepaug student by sending all 471 students on a tuition basis to the New Milford school district.
This is an annual savings of $3.4 million (high school -- $2.1 million and middle middle school -- $1.3 million) using the 2013-14 Shepaug student count.
The study also lists the high school tuition charges of neighboring school districts (i.e., Brookfield, $13,929; Litchfield, $11,133; New Milford, $11,787, and Region 15, $11,525).
The study lists advanced placement courses offered by local area school districts. Brookfield offers 21 AP courses and has been on the AP honor roll for the last two years. New Milford offers 18 AP courses and was on the AP honor roll last year.
Shepaug offers 10 AP courses.
In Region 12 material promoting consolidation, the following operating costs are outlined:
The annual operating cost for the current elementary schools is $6.63 million.
The annual operating cost for the proposed consolidated school is $4.94 Million.
Region 12 predicts an annual operating savings of $1.7 million.
This saving is largely achieved by cutting the elementary staffing in half.
Clearly an annual tuition-out projected savings of $3.4 million requires a complete study.
Certainly the Shepaug building is the least efficient in region. It was built to house 1,200 students and the demographers' latest forecast predicts it will house less than 300 students in 10 years.
It is equally clear our older students can benefit from attending larger school districts with more robust course offerings.
There is also more diversity in larger school districts and there is a wider variety of athletics programs.
As Region 12 shrinks, it will never be able to compete with larger neighboring school districts.
We should not handicap our older students as the school district shrinks in the future.
The study is on website http://concernedcitizensofbridgewater.com/Ed's report.