To the Editor:

My wife and I have lived in Bridgewater for 35 years. We both have been very active in volunteer work during those years.

My service includes a 15-year commitment as a member of the Bridgewater Scholarship Committe, where I currently serve as chairman. We have raised two children, both of whom went through the Burnham and Region 12 school system.

I believe eliminating two of our local elementary schools in favor of a regional one to be a huge mistake.

Burnham School is part of the fabric of our town. People feel they have access to it and to its teachers. Move it two towns away and all of that changes.

In a recent letter from a Washington resident, it was stated the Burnham and Booth schools "are top-rated because of the quality of teachers, students, administrators and parents."

Agreed. In fact, I believe Burnham School recently received top recognition for being the best elementary school in the area. Why would we want to change that?

It has been argued there would be a savings. Those numbers are being highly disputed. In fact, I believe it could cost us more.

And the costs/risks for doing this consolidation are even greater.

For instance, Bridgewater children could be on buses for perhaps an additional four hours per week. Home values could go down, and the prophecy of declining enrollment would be self-fulfilling, as young families avoid moving to the only two towns in the state without elementary schools.

The aforementioned author's failed attempt at humor (Broxington!?!) exposes the fact people from Washington are virtually unaffected by consolidation. Simply put, they have no skin in the game. They lose nothing. Their school simply has a change of address.

My daughter graduated from Shepaug in 2002 in a class of just 69 students. I recall the rallying cry then to eliminate the Region 12 system altogether because of the small class size. This year, the graduating class was 70.

Let's take a breath, Region 12.

What we really need is to support the current system, which includes elementary schools that are safe, efficient and accessible. We can fix the facilities.

The rest of it works. Let's not change it.

Larry Neary