To the editor:

Bridgewater taxpayers will be asked to vote on a regional proposal Nov. 10 for a new AgSTEM program to be based at the Shepaug Valley campus in Washington. If passed, it will be the 20th such program in the state for motivated students interested in Agriculture, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

The state will cover 60 percent of the total expenses including interest while the region will cover the remaining 40 percent, which comes out to about $11 million. Bridgewater’s portion is currently 21 percent of this cost, which translates to $2.4 million (paid over a 20-year bond period).

Bridgewater has fought for years to keep a primary school in our community. And it’s not just any school — it is the Burnham School — one which sits in the center of our town, has consistently provided a stellar education evident in high test scores, community and parental involvement and the intangible feeling that our kids are in good, safe hands.

The trend of declining enrollment across the state is impacting Burnham and all of Region 12. The town has been working hard to buck this trend and attract families to our town via new marketing tools, presentations to realtors, and outreach to surrounding communities.

The AgSTEM opportunity will be another significant way of bringing students and families into our community and the region. We need a strong high school to complement our strong elementary school. AgSTEM meets this need for several reasons. It brings students into our region from eight other towns. It provides a revenue stream from tuition. It brings us new and badly needed science labs and will increase the number of AP classes offered. New families will be attracted to Bridgewater and fill our larger homes which helps real estate values.

Bridgewater is moving forward in many ways: refurbished buildings, new recreational programs, an active senior center, a new café in sight...AgSTEM is another key component to making our Town vibrant. Please vote “yes” on Nov. 10

Julie Stuart