October 2, 2022

VOTE - Saturday August 6 @ Francis Farm

Posted

In 2019, the Town of Rehoboth rejected an FY20 assessment presented by the DR School Committee at three separate Town meetings. With the School Committee and Administration unable to develop a budget that would pass approval by Rehoboth, the district fell into DESE oversight and Rehoboth was ultimately required to pay more than was approved at Town Meeting.

By withdrawing Rehoboth K-8 from the district, the taxpayers of Rehoboth will, through Town meeting, have final say over the Palmer River and Beckwith budgets, likely preventing a drawn-out battle over the budgets of these two schools in the future. BUT:

- The DR School Committee is still in control of the High School budget. The FY20 situation could play out again over just the high school budget. That being said, the goal of the current SC and Administration is to prevent any repeat of this debacle by working diligently to present an annual budget for the entire district that is affordable to both towns as we did for FY23.

- The cost of running the K-8 on our own could exceed what we can afford anyway. Even though we have the “final say”, we may not be able to fit the K-8 budget into our town budget while keeping the services we have now.

- Everything could work out perfectly and Rehoboth will be able to achieve financial savings while at the same time giving our kids a better education than they are getting now.

The point is we don’t know the full extent of the consequences of a withdrawal. The cost of the unknown is too high for me and what WILL happen is that a community that has grown together for my entire lifetime, and long before that, will be torn apart. We are, and have been for decades, DR.

I also question why a mailer came to my house claiming that we pay for 65% of Dighton’s schools, when I know this to be untrue. Is it because the juice isn’t worth the squeeze? Is the price of this control more than we can afford, requiring misleading language to get a passing vote? Why not be straight-forward about what this vote will achieve and what it will not? Because NO ONE knows if this will achieve a cost savings. The only thing we know is it will achieve the ability to veto a K-8 budget via Town Meeting.

To me, the solution to our control problem is what it has always been. Vote in elected officials who will listen to and act for their constituency. If you are worried about losing control, get out and vote in every town election. Vote for candidates who will follow the will of their constituents. Question candidates endlessly. Show up at School Committee meetings and question the budget. Run yourself if there are no better options. But don’t vote to withdraw K-8 and expect it to be a fix.

I didn’t expect to be against this withdrawal. But after serving on the School Committee for a year and understanding the budgeting and assessment processes, I do not think that K-8 withdrawal is right for our town. It could very well be the cause of problems we cannot even foresee, and certainly is not a silver bullet that will solve our financial woes. And in case it isn’t clear, Rehoboth will always be mandated by the state to pay more toward our schools than Dighton is, whether we are in a district with Dighton or on our own. The “wealth factor” does not just apply to regionalized school systems.

Please, please, please come to the Special Town Meeting on August 6 at 1 PM – listen to the debate, hear the implications, and VOTE as if the future of the community you love depends on it. Don’t regret not having a say in the future of your home and wishing you had done more.

Sincerely,
Victoria Silvia

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