April 15, 2009

Somerset-Berkley Regionalization - Opinion

This is my opinion subsequent to the meeting last night.

I, too, feel that the point cannot be made more plain: the primary concern in this is the quality of education of our children. And by "our children" I mean the children of both Somerset and Berkley. As Mr. Shaker points out, this student population -- these individuals and their families -- are already part of our school community. There is both an emotional connection and financial connection that cannot be ignored. We lose that to the detriment of the quality of education in this town.

We have had plenty of time for foot-dragging, and that time has largely been wasted. I heard no arguments last night for an alternative plan. If there were substantive criticisms of this plan, where were those with questions last night? I am left to assume that remaining criticisms and questions are in the details, which is only natural. But those questions must surely not rise to the level of "deal breakers." The representatives of MSBA presented the plan cogently and answered questions convincingly.

No fairy godmother is going to swoop in and fix the school for the long term or build us a new non-regionalized SHS. In this economy, no windfall of tax money is going to manifest itself on our doorstep. Yet the state is offering a remarkable opportunity in these difficult economic times. And they promise to stand by their offer if we move forward in good faith. We could have a school that is the envy of the SouthCoast. Foot-dragging in the interest of letting this opportunity pass us by is not prudence, it is folly. This is no new problem. Calls for delay in the guise of judiciousness are disingenuous and insult our intelligence; as a Berkley student pointed out last night, we've been living with this possibility for many years. The consequences of our inaction now loom more threateningly over our heads. We have foot-dragging to thank for a worsening condition.

Our problems are not going to go away, but our solutions certainly are if we choose to sit on our hands.

Part of what I was hoping to hear last night is why we took so long to get to this point. I didn't hear that. I heard a call for prudence and dotting the "i"s, but that leaves us to wonder why was it put off so long. I will not speculate about motives, but <i>if</i> the problem is that our representatives lack the impetus and pluck to lead then the citizens of the town, citizens should show them our enthusiasm, frustration, and our fortitude. If this is not a motivating force, then we have an even larger problem. I hope that the interested audience last night has helped leaders find their strength to act.

There will be questions in the details and problems to be worked out. No worthwhile endeavor is without challenge. Let us rise to meet that challenge, secure the future of education in Somerset and Berkley in a stable, modern facility and move on to future challenges.

[This opinion was first posted by me in a discussion thread on the website in support of discussion about a Somerset-Berkley regionalization. Concerned citizens of Somerset and Berkley, please join that site and add your voice to the growing efforts to keep this process on an expeditious track.]

Posted by James at April 15, 2009 9:07 AM
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What? A once in a lifetime opportunity that solves a long-standing problem and will make both communities better than the sum of their individual parts? And someone is going to GIVE you the money to make it happen? No, no, run! Don't go into the light!!!

I truly hope the Somerset School Committee comes to its senses...it would be a crying shame to let this slip.

Posted by: Bull at April 15, 2009 10:38 AM

It happened when I live in Tyngsborough. We had a need. The government was going to pony up a lot of money to help us get a new, state of the art high school. It got voted down by the townies and the people in the town that no longer had school aged children.

Posted by: briwei at April 15, 2009 11:14 AM

That's what I fear. I believe that Tyngsboro is now facing its own issues of regionalization.

Posted by: James at April 15, 2009 12:07 PM

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