To the Editor:

It is reasonable to assume the new Region 12 program of Ag/STEM will gradually grow as it matures and becomes a fully functional AG program. It will have a new staff operating in a renovated and expanded school.

The Region 12 website predicts the number of out-of-region AG students to expand from zero to 119 in three short years and then operate at 119 students for the next 17 years. This is not a realistic expectation.

Anthony Amato, Region 12 board chairman, recognized this and stated in a February 2017 Board of Education meeting the most “likely scenario was for 102 AG students.”

The Region 12 website (Ag/stem financials - page 12) states the three-year average for out-of-region AG students is 62.

However, the results from recent FOI requests to the sending districts show 61 out-of-region students currently attending the VO/AG program at Region 14.

When the Danbury commitment of 15 maximum students is considered, the number of out-of-region students will be 59.

Assuming the catchment districts initially send 59 students, a realistic plan would forecast annual modest increase of out-of-region students each year as the program matures.

This, unfortunately, could yield an accumulated loss of $15 million over the 20-year bonding period, when the science lab debt service is included in the cash flow analysis.

This result could also mean an average of $658,000 additional taxes each year for the bonding period.

After all of this red ink, there could be an annual subsidy for each out-of-region student starting around $5,300 and gradually decreasing, until the out-of-region student enrollment reaches 119 forecast (twice current three-year average at Region 14).

Ed Wainwright

Bridgewater