Arlene Bassett’s letter last week in the Tri-Town Times urged Sandown residents to vote “No” on Article 13 concerning withdrawing from the Timberlane School District. Mrs. Bassett and her extended family are a very valued and active part of Sandown and I am sad we are on different sides of this issue. I believe many of her objections are based on incomplete information about the actual withdrawal plan.
She argued that:
- Sandown North is already too crowded. How can we put 6, 7, and 8th grades in there? This year, Sandown North has 342 students in grades 1 – 5. The withdrawal plan has grades 4 – 8 at Sandown North. By 2020/21 when the new Sandown School District is fully transitioned, there will be just 291 students at Sandown North – 51 students fewer than currently – based on NESDEC enrollment projections.
- We’ll still be a member of SAU 55 with the same superintendent with no vote on the board. A Sandown School District would have a Memorandum of Understanding with SAU55, clearly delineating its business services to our independent district. As part of SAU55, we will have voting seats on the SAU board. If down the road SAU55 provides unsatisfactory services, Sandown can vote to withdraw from SAU55 and either join another SAU or run our own.
- No other high school has promised to take our students. Only an independent Sandown School District can negotiate a legally binding agreement with any other high school. After this warrant passes, we would have standing to obtain a letter of intent from a high school such as Pinkerton, which would form part of the Board of Education review of our withdrawal proposal.
- If taxes don’t go down, there is no going back. No one can guarantee that taxes will go down with our own school district, though I firmly believe they will, but you can be sure that taxes will go up with Timberlane. They are predicting an 11.5% increase for Sandown’s school taxes this coming November.
But taxes aren’t the only consideration. Our own district will give our students access to a better high school, keep them in Sandown during their middle school years, and give you local control of your child’s education through a school board that you can change and influence by your vote, something we don’t have now.
A “Yes” vote on March 8th is giving our kids a chance at something better and our taxpayers a chance of some relief in the future. A successful Article 13 will not give us our own district yet – a district-wide vote is required for that – but it will start a process for educational self-determination.
For the full plan, FAQs and replies to more objections, see CASE2018.wordpress.com