Urges strong referendum voter turnout, 'no' vote
Published 4:46 pm, Wednesday, April 16, 2014
To the Editor:
The impacts of the Region 12 vote go beyond elementary school closings in Bridgewater and Roxbury and the issues of transporting young children to a new school in Washington.
Let us hope voters do not set aside the guarantee that each town will have an elementary school within its borders.
Consider this: What if the outcome is "yes" to that question (re-packaged as `consolidation') and "no" to the budget?
Would the administration still have the authority to consolidate the elementary schools at the Shepaug campus as long as it could be done without the construction budget?
If so, then, the high school is at risk to be closed. It has been suggested there are economic advantages to sending Region 12 teens to New Milford High School on a tuition basis, and repurposing the high school space for an elementary school is sure to look better on paper than a new construction project.
This scenario, where Roxbury and Bridgewater each close their elementary school and all three towns lose their high school looks likely and is at risk depending on the referendum outcome.
What would this mean to the high schoolers?
As wonderful as New Milford High School is, how would Region 12 parents begin to engage with a new parental peer group?
Would the 60 to 70 percent of Shepaug high school students who participate in after-school activities be able to continue them?
How many will make the sports teams and get coaching and playing time in New Milford? Could they get to Shepaug for a 6:30 a.m. bus?
What other issues would transportation problems cause for students and their families? If parents want to stay involved, it shouldn't end at middle school.
School is the peer group link to parental involvement. The school is where our children are socialized and grow, and where we as parents support each other.
The availability and access to after-school sports, music and other enrichment keeps them active, fit, engaged and healthy.
When a school is closed, the fabric of the community is cut to the quick.
The real estate market will recover and buyers will return, but fewer buyers will return for diminished goods.
In the meantime, this is much more than an economic decision, with far-reaching impacts into quality of life, family matters, and best possible options for all children, including young adults.
Perhaps the irony of last week's front page Spectrum articles should not be lost; the featured article (Region-12 issues) "Gut Feeling" by Art Cummings, citizen apathy "little fanfare" to a $98.5 municipal budget, and parents "as the first line of defense" to stem the increasing loss of lives to drug abuse; all point to issues with related solutions.
Big fanfare, in the form of voter turnout, usually assures that the right decisions are made.
Turn out and vote "no" and "no" to the Tuesday, April 29 referendum.
The downside is too great and the available information is too little.