Offers reminder of a town's right to have a school
Published 4:52 pm, Wednesday, April 16, 2014
To the Editor:
Art Cummings' column, "Region 12 would be better off with a No/No vote on April 29th," has inspired me to write this response.
Mr. Cummings writes: "Given all the issues involved, and weighing all the factors, I sincerely believe the Region 12 school district would be better off by voting no/no on April 29 and then going back to the drawing board for a more enlightened, more harmonious, less expensive, more common-sense solution."
I couldn't agree with him more.
As the former chairwoman of Save Our Schools, I have stayed quiet these many months trying to listen and understand both sides of the debate.
I could certainly spend a lot of time sharing my opinion why I think keeping Burnham and Booth is the more viable option. I could also spend time weighing the benefits of a consolidated school, but I think everyone has heard enough reasons.
At this point in the game, I don't believe too many minds will be changed.
What I do want is to remind everyone we (the town of Bridgewater) and the PAC Save Our Schools fought hard in the 1980s, in 2005-2007 and continues to fight in 2013-2014 to maintain our right.
Yes, it's our right to maintain our school in our town.
We brought this issue not that long ago to the state Supreme Court.
The fact is that we have State Statute 10-47c. (...If the majority vote in each town of the district is in favor of the proposed amendment to the plan, such amendment shall take effect immediately... ).
In other words, if any one town were to vote it down, the proposed amendment to the plan would fail.
This is why we are being faced with two questions on April 29. Because Cited. 169 C. 613. Proposal to consolidate three separate elementary schools into a single school, thereby eliminating elementary schools in two towns, is not an incidental change to the regional school plan and constitutes an amendment to the plan under section; conclusion in Atwood v. Regional School District... is protecting us from being forced to close our hometown school.
We are three wonderful towns that should be working together to come up with a plan that fits the needs of each community and the strong autonomy we each hold.
We should not be voting on a referendum we all have known from the start would divide the region's community, create tension among friends, and stall the growth of these towns.
Yet here we are. I really don't understand why the Region 12 Board of Education thought the outcome would be any different.
I believe the declining enrollment is not due to the economic times but due to the ongoing unresolved debate of the Region 12 schools. While communities around us are building more schools because of increasing population, we are scaring potential buyers away with futile debates.
While we fight about where the schools should be, families who do live in town are sending their kids elsewhere.
I hope once Bridgewater votes no/no on April 29,the Board of Education will respect the outcome and finally move towards the more harmonious solution.
Perhaps now we might consider re-configuration of Booth Free and Burnham School and bring Washington students to this side of the region for the "change" that everyone is looking for.