By Mary Loftis —
In the new PowerPoint presentation developed by the ad hoc ConVal Model Study Committee there is a slide that shows enrollment trends since the ConVal district was “born” in 1968. The line is superimposed on the silhouette of Pack Monadnock, which it mirrors almost exactly. In the mid-‘90s, when my two children attended Dublin Consolidated School, enrollment was at its peak; we’re in the “foothills” now, and a projection out five years shows school enrollment sliding further down the mountain. And yet costs (and taxes) keep going up. What to do about it?
The Model Study Committee’s charge was “to develop a comparative model of our current educational structure, options for the board and for public discussion, on different financial and infrastructure models for school grade configurations and their impact on educational decisions.” The group, which included school board members, administrators, teachers and parents, met 13 times beginning last summer. We spent many hours discussing the educational and financial implications of five different models, and the District’s Superintendent and Business Administrator spent countless more hours accumulating background information to illustrate and flesh them out.
At our last meeting, after discussing our “road show” (which includes a compelling PowerPoint presentation), we decided that hurrying to visit nine towns during school budget season would not afford this vital subject the attention it deserves. Therefore, we voted to proceed with our visits to all the towns, conduct a written survey on the subject, and then come up with a recommendation to the school board. At this point, the committee is not promoting any one of the five alternatives.
Unfortunately, a small group of people, understandably impatient for “action,” has circumvented the work of our committee and caused confusion by circulating a petition warrant article calling for the education of all fifth graders in the elementary schools and the closing of one of the two middle schools. This plan coincides with Option 3 in our report and may in fact be a good idea. But we have not chosen it. We have not yet chosen any option to recommend to the full board or to put on the warrant; we need to hear what our constituents say first.
I urge you to defeat this article in March and to come and discuss all the possibilities when the Model Study Committee brings its presentation to Dublin. This is a thorny problem with huge financial and educational implications for the future. Please listen to all the information and come to an informed conclusion.
Mary Loftis is Dublin’s representative to the ConVal school board of SAU 1.