To the Editor:

Region 12's referendum date, April 29, is approaching.

We all have a stake in this decision, even those of us who, like me, are seniors whose own children or stepchildren went to school here years ago.

This vote will truly determine the future of our towns. Consolidation is a complicated issue, but I think there are arguments against it that we should all keep firmly in mind when we go to the polls.

If we want to believe we can take on $50 million of new debt (project costs and interest) and, at the same time, lower our taxes, well, so be it.

But do remember enrollment numbers are cyclical and Region 12 administration's figures are based on current projections. They don't reflect what may be happening in future years.

Without an elementary school in two of our towns, those towns will still have the costs of maintaining and possibly retrofitting their school buildings for another purpose.

And without an elementary school, real estate values in those towns will certainly be adversely affected.

What family with young children would want to move to Bridgewater or Roxbury if there were no local elementary school?

We need new families and not only because they invigorate our towns. Without new families, in future years, how would Bridgewater and Roxbury find volunteers for their fire departments or for town boards and commissions?

I'm voting "no" on April 29 for the reasons listed above. And maybe for something that's intangible, more about the traditions that give our communities their character.

As a longtime volunteer at the Burnham Library, where Bridgewater children come every week for reading programs, I believe learning on the local level is a precious commodity that should be preserved.

Let's keep our schools where they are and find another way to solve our problems.

Jane Bernstein