Letter: Orange schools
I am writing in response to the recent article which appeared in The Recorder concerning a proposal to explore building a new elementary school in Orange.
I appreciate Superintendent Baldassarre’s forward thinking; however, I have some concerns about this plan based upon the recent financial difficulties experienced by the town. In the article, the superintendent proposes that the town look at the feasibility of replacing the three existing older buildings with a new school. If my memory serves me right, no more than a year ago the town was experiencing significant financial difficulties. Currently, some public works services are severely handicapped due to budget constraints.
Exploring the possibility of building a new elementary school with 80 percent from the state is prudent; however, I would like the School Committee to do some creative thinking and develop a plan that would result in some immediate steps to reduce the school budget. If all three elementary school buildings are currently under utilized, why not look at some form of consolidation? Possibly the third- and fourth-graders from Dexter Park could be relocated to Fisher Hill or the third-graders to Fisher Hill and the fourth-graders to Butterfield beginning this fall.
Knowing little about the structural layout of the schools, a better plan may well exist. In either case, some form of consolidation seems quite doable and would save the town considerable money as one cafeteria and one principal could be eliminated along with costly dollars spent on heat, electricity and maintenance.
I would ask that the members of the School Committee move cautiously before increasing the tax burden to the residents of Orange. In addition, I would challenge them to think “outside the box” and formulate some consolidation plan that would bring immediate financial savings to the town.
CHARLES R. STONE Jr.