The School Committee is holding its one and only Public Forum on the Fiscal Year 2010 budget today, Thursday, March 19, at 7 p.m. in the Buker Multipurpose Room. 

This public forum is your last and best chance to ask questions and share your opinions about  what’s getting cut, what schools and programs will be affected, and what’s the best way to repair our beleaguered school buildings.

Please make an honest effort to attend.

News you can use:

  1. For the first time in many years, there will be no operational override in the towns of Hamilton and Wenham to fund the regional school district.

That means the district will operate next year on the contribution from the towns, which is still in flux, and Chapter 70 funding from the state, which again has not yet been determined and may or may not involve the use of Federal Stimulus funds.

  1. The New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) recently sent a strongly worded letter to the district (Click to view NEASC report at http://hs.hw-regional.k12.ma.us/info/NEASC/NEASCLetter%202009.pdf)

The regional high school is on "warning" status now; without action or demonstrable progress toward action, that status could be deteroriate to "on probation" in August of this year.

Schools on warning status are not made public, but schools on probation are. There are just nine
of 391 districts in Massachusetts on NEASC probation, including Uxbridge, Beverly, Spencer, Haverhill, Holbrook, Maynard, Randolph, Rockland, and Southbridge.

  1. Among other concerns, NEASC cited the district for the poor physical condition of the high school and its auditorium. In fact, through years of neglect due to insufficient funds, every school in our district is in need of some type of repair.  

    To remedy those problems, the School Committee last week proposed a debt-exclusion capital override to fund school building-repair projects. A large part of that money would go toward essential repairs at the High School. These repairs are one of the issues that NEASC is requiring the district to show progress on to avoid having the High School downgraded to "on probation."

Like the town hall and police station in Wenham and the public safety building project in Hamilton, the debt exclusion is used to fund specific building projects. The School Committee is proposing to issue a bond that would spread payments over a 10- or 20-year period, at the currently very favorable interest rates.

Is this prudent long-term planning? Come let your voice be heard tonight, 7 p.m. in the Buker Multipurpose Room.

See you there!

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