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Letter: Rowe, vote ‘no’

On Tuesday night, at the Rowe Fire Station, we voters of Rowe will be asked to make a decision that will have an enormous impact on the town for decades to come — to appropriate $6,307,200 to build a new school in Rowe. We are asked to approve this expenditure for this purpose, although we have NEVER had any discussion about the various options available to us for the education of our children. Only if we vote “NO” on Article 1 will our town’s elected and appointed boards be forced to consider other options for the education of our children.

We believe that it is morally wrong to build a new school in this region — a school that MUST, to exist at all, pull children from our neighboring towns and increase their operating difficulties. Rowe’s resident elementary-age school population is declining — 40 in 2011, 36 this year, 32 next year, and 31 estimated for 2014-2015. This year, the Mohawk Trail Regional School District (MTRSD) has space for 2,052 children in the elementary schools and has 668 children enrolled. Our building a new Rowe school will have a negative effect on every other elementary school in the district, as they lose their needed town-resident students to our new school. We believe that now is the time for cooperation, not competition and isolation. We also believe that this is a time for sharing our talents and resources with our neighboring towns to find a solution together.

At annual Town Meeting last week, we passed an FY2014 budget for the Rowe School of $1,123,305 and approved funds for teachers’ fringe benefits — roughly estimated to be an additional $300,000. Dividing this amount by the 32 Rowe resident children, we see that we are spending a bit more than $40,000 per child. If we divide the total by the projected total school population of 57 (adding the 25 School Choice children), the per-pupil cost is just under $25,000 per child. However, Rowe will receive $5,000 School Choice funds for each of the 21 children who are of kindergarten age or older. This means that our tax dollars will be subsidizing non-Rowe children at roughly $500,000 next year — a high price for having “our own” school.

We urge you to attend the Special Town Meeting and Vote “NO” on Article 1.



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