Welcome regional partnership to solve problems
Published 12:47 am, Wednesday, May 14, 2014
To the Editor:
More than two years ago, Region 12 embarked on a process to get an answer.
On April 29, the region received a resounding and definitive answer to the question of consolidation.
The majority of the towns in the region want to keep their hometown schools and reject spending the money for a consolidated one.
SOS would like to thank all supporters -- young families, retirees, new residents and old, weekenders and full-timers -- all who have worked tirelessly to preserve our award-winning schools and help guarantee the future vitality of our towns.
The three first selectmen have said for the past two years we cannot continue "as is."
Doing nothing was not an option and shouldn't be now. We must honor this vote and quickly and impartially move to investigate creative solutions that utilize current buildings.
There are many possibilities. However, this is only one piece of the work to be done.
We must also work to bring families into these communities and retain the ones already here. We need a plan of action with built-in accountability to increase enrollment within the region as soon as possible.
This plan must work in concert with the towns' current plans.
Will the eight-person Board of Education voting bloc now listen to the 1,600-person voter majority?
It remains to be seen if they can lead. If not, the region's collapse is insured.
We look for the town leaders to step in and provide the necessary leadership if necessary.
Will the superintendent, who has an opportunity now to be inclusive, as opposed to encouraging divisiveness, include the voices of others and listen and lead toward a new direction?
Or will she try to implement ideas that will further alienate the majority of voters and only damage chances of bringing new students into these communities?
Unfortunately, the latest idea of merging kindergarten and first grade at Burnham School is impulsive, political and not the best available option.
A more educationally sound and population-sensitive option would be a pre-kindergarten/kindergarten merge.
There is currently a waiting list of seven children for the Reach pre-K program. In a time of declining enrollment, no child should be on a waiting list in our region when our main goal is to increase the number of children in the school system over the long term.
The region should pilot a pre-K/K merge at Burnham this year, adding the seven children on the waiting list to the current kindergarten class. This could also enable Bridgewater to launch a before- and after-school care program as a pilot extended-day enrichment program for the region.
We also believe the region should reevaluate offering the program to Booth and WPS families so they may also benefit.
This solution would not require a referendum.
The town of Bridgewater has begun many new initiatives to attract and appeal to young families. It will take some time.
We would welcome working with others from Roxbury and Washington on similar ventures.
Let's get to work.
Save Our Schools