[The following is an open letter to the selectmen of Bridgewater, Roxbury and Washington, the Region 12 superintendent of schools and the towns' boards of finance.]

A merge between Region 12 and the Litchfield school district would have merit.

Shepaug students would benefit from attending Litchfield schools for the following reasons:

The Litchfield high school is nationally ranked by the 2014 US News and World Report and is identified as among the best in the state.

The 2013 Shepaug CAPT test scores are not strong -- only 55 percent achieved the state goal in science and 64 percent achieved the state goal in math.

More AP courses are offered in Litchfield. Litchfield has 14 AP courses and Shepaug has 10.

Five percent of the Litchfield students participate in a gifted and talented program.

Region 12 does not provide this program.

Comparing the percentage of students completing high school in four years, Shepaug is on par with the state-wide average of 85 percent while Litchfield has a 95 percent graduation rate.

Washington students would have the shortest bus travel.

The Bridgewater and Roxbury travel time would be extended but the educational benefits of attending an excellent school should compensate for longer bus travels.

Sending Region 12 middle and high school students to Litchfield on a tuition basis would be an excellent alternative to merging school districts.

This would provide a better education and would reduce the education costs in each of the Region 12 towns.

This alternative needs to be investigated.

Ed Wainwright

Bridgewater