(Editor's Note: The following is an open letter to the residents of Region 12).

As first selectmen of Region 12 towns, we all agree in our strong support for a viable Shepaug Valley Middle/High School and the continuance of the individual primary schools currently undergoing necessary repairs to keep the facilities safe, functional and attractive.

The Region 12 Board of Education will soon be seeking significant funds for the Shepaug Valley School campus.

Exactly how much money is needed for what specific repairs and improvements has yet to be delineated.

It is hard to argue with the idea that a viable Shepaug will need facility improvements over the next several years to attract potential students who have other options for high school.

At a recent joint meeting of the Region 12 board with the towns' first selectmen and Board of Finance chairmen, there were requests that long-range plans need to be articulated.

This should include milestones and targets for student populations over a five- to 10-year horizon. If numbers keep going down while per-student costs continue to rise, we may eventually need to consider other educational options.

Currently, all three towns and Region 12 have undertaken initiatives to attract young families and promote our schools, but we also recognize there are demographic and economic factors out of our control.

We agree now is the critical time to underwrite the future of the Shepaug Valley School and offer our students a truly excellent academic experience at a modern, competitive facility.

With the Board of Education and Region 12 administrators focusing on academic achievement and rankings, Shepaug's reputation will be enhanced, which in turn will serve to attract families with college-bound students.

Region 12 schools deserve to be the best they can be, and that can only happen with voter and taxpayer support.

We hope you will join us in our commitment to academic excellence.

Curtis Read

First Selectman

Bridgewater

Barbara Henry

First Selectman

Roxbury

Mark Lyon

First Selectman

Washington