Last year the Monomoy Regional School Committee made a difficult decision. They chose to add Grade 8 to the new Monomoy Regional High School.
They really had no choice in the matter – no choice at all. Monomoy was required to enroll 700 students in order to receive funding from the Massachusetts School Building Authority. The MSBA is providing $29,696,270 of the $61,701,185 project according to its recommendation document published on July 18, 2012.
When Cape Cod Today previously queried Monomoy Superintendent Scott Carpenter he told us that the MSBA was “working with the district”, but was not more specific than that.
Cape Cod Today contacted Superintendent Carpenter last week to re-visit the enrollment issue. His response is published verbatim below:
You asked about the MSBA policy and I responded to you on July 19th. The answer still stands. The prediction in my July email, that families will migrate towards our two communities and Monomoy's schools as the enhanced academic program and expanded opportunities are established is apparently coming true. In Harwich Middle School alone, enrollment is up by over 50 students since the beinging [sic] of this school year. Early in the school year we had to close school choice at Harwich Middle School just to accomodate [sic] the families moving to town, in part, to avail themselves to the quality that Monomoy Regional Schools have to offer. And, the best is yet to come.
Scott Carpenter, Superintendent, Monomoy Regional School District
This reporter spoke on the phone Friday with Jack McCarthy, Executive Director of the MSBA. He explained that nothing would likely be said about enrollment during the first year the new school is open.
A "money-back guarantee"
However if the district does not reach its contractual goal of 700+ students, eventually the MSBA’s board would have to consider the possibility of asking for some of the state’s money back.
He told us that the MSBA usually gives a district a year to remedy their shortfall, which in Monomoy's case is almost certainly impossible.
The numbers don't lie
Looking at Monomoy’s enrollment in the middle grades and factoring in the district’s current attrition rate between Grade 8 and Grade 9, the district’s ability to ever meet the 700 student mandate is in doubt.
Friday afternoon Cape Cod Today emailed members of the Monomoy Regional School Committee and Superintendent Carpenter asking them to articulate their position on this matter of concern to taxpayers in Harwich and Chatham.
Thus far, the regionalization of Chatham and Harwich’s schools has not yielded any of the hoped-for savings, nor do recent budget drafts indicate the regional school district will ever cost taxpayers less than did the two independent school districts.