To the Editor:
After multiple presentations within the Region 12 school district proposing drastic changes to Shepaug Valley High School block scheduling, there has yet to be shown that any of the changes would correct the problems driving them, which are the declining student population and increasing budgetary pressures.
In fact, if the proposed scheduling changes were to be approved at Monday night's Board of Education meeting, they should plan for these issues to get worse in the upcoming budget season.
The radical changes will diminish what makes Shepaug a private school-quality public school, and in-district students with the means to do so will likely choose private schools over Shepaug, further and immediately reducing the student population and raising the average cost-per-student of those remaining.
Tuition students from Sherman (new and existing) would have no further reason to choose Shepaug over other choices, as the existing block scheduling is the clear differentiator that keeps them coming.
Opportunities to offer tuition placements at SVHS to students from other high schools suffering the same student declines will be lost.
The board should plan to calculate declines in both student population and revenues to town bottom line(s), the same as selectively opting out of available grant monies.
Further, it cannot be minimized how these capricious actions-to-date have served to demotivate teachers and staff and, if allowed to continue, would drain the daily discretionary efforts that make Shepaug the special place it has been in the lives of students for decades.
Until the rationale for the actions is explained as solving the problems, one can only wonder if there is a hidden agenda behind what seems to be a `scorched earth' approach, which is to reduce the student population so drastically the high school itself is no longer economically sustainable, resulting in the closing of Shepaug Valley High School and Region-12 students becoming tuition students at other area schools.
The Region 12 Board of Education is urged to reject the proposals of new superintendent, Dr. Patricia Cosentino, so the damage done to community relations may begin to heal along with the requisite support for the upcoming educational budget.