To the Editor:

On Jan. 18, a public forum was held concerning the status of the Region 12 Ag-STEM project.

One statement made by a well-seasoned Ag-STEM opponent stood out from all the rest and still reverberates in my mind.

He accused the superintendent and Board of Education of committing “fraud.”

I first thought this to be rather harsh, but soon realized that this accusation was quite pertinent.

Fraud is defined as: unjustifiably claiming something with misleading allegations and misrepresentations.

Prior to the referendum, the superintendent and most of the Region12 BOE members insisted that the money from the state was already appropriated.

Tuition collected from the forecasted 196 out-of-district and 30 in-district students would pay for the cost to operate, pay off the bonded debt and there would be money left over to fund other capital needs and maintenance projects.

Needless to say, the state money is not there and the questionable student population has been amended downward to a mere 102 total population.

By June of this year, the superintendent and BOE will have spent almost $1 million on architectural plans, testing, advisors, lawyers and public relations.

The chances of the state funding $25 million for a mere 102 students, including an overpriced $7.5 million demonstration barn, during this dire budgetary crisis are very slim.

At this same forum one of Washington’s Selectman stated, “it doesn’t make any difference whether or not this program pays for itself.”

Fraud? You decide.

John Buonaiuto