To the Editor:
A friend today sent me a link to your July 22, 2013 article on the Monomoy Regional School District that was most informative. I guess I am living in a cave here in Harwich Port (where I have owned a home since 1976) to not have noticed let alone subscribed to your excellent newspaper. I did subscribe today (we are in Tortola for a couple months to avoid the dismal latitudes for at least part of the winter and it is where our son and his wife live).
The many insightful points you raise in the article were all discussed at some length during the development of the regionalization plan and new high school. There was a vocal minority, including me, who advocated against building a new high school because with declining enrollment we did not need one.
If, indeed, the Harwich High building is a fire trap (there were actually other problems with the building) and needs to be razed, so be it. In the remaining school buildings (one elementary and one middle in each town, and the Chatham High) there was ample room for the school population (and room to spare with excess capacity of about 350). The advocates for the new building are "free money acolytes". Their most compelling argument (to me) was that if we don't take advantage of the "free state money" some other town will.
Back to regionalization. I personally endorse this since each town has such a small and declining enrollment. It might have made even more sense to add Brewster to the mix. This would then create the critical mass necessary to offer a rich curriculum (though please, not Mandarin - the school system would still be too small for exotic curricula - and please not the IB which, if it is meritorious, can be achieved at far less expense through mimicry in the curriculum.
I did not endorse the inter-municipal agreement terms that used "foundation enrollment" to determine respective shares of expense. This bit of arcana is school-speak for let's dazzle 'em. It is a largely fictitious number whose genesis is unknown to me.
I suggested we use the matriculation numbers since those are real: you can count noses on opening day of school. As a result, there was a significant shift of cost to Harwich to the benefit of Chatham. Harwich's share for FY15 is 73% (up from 72%).
The first year of regionalization (FY12) we had a million dollar override to support the "transition". This was a permanent override which some petitioners in town (not including me) have an article for the May town meeting to underride by the same amount. So the financial incentives that were offered to sell the voters in both towns have not been forthcoming and likely will not be in the future.
Regardless of the outcome, this situation is becoming uglier by the day.
Hopefully your paper will see fit to do a series of articles on this subject as the citizens deserve unbiased information that you can provide. It would be interesting to know how many subscribers you have in Chatham and Harwich and perhaps there is something we could do to raise the visibility of Cape Cod Today.
Keep up the good work.
Albert "Skip" Patterson
Chairman of the Harwich Finance Committee