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Editorial: Finish in sight

Almost to the finish line.

The Gill-Montague Regional School District is just about to break the tape in its run to leave behind the state’s Level 4 designation. As reported in The Recorder, the district is poised to shed the “under-performing” label with state acceptance of the proposal for continued improvement within the district.

“Assuming that I have received and accepted the written assurance I have requested from you and the School Committee,” wrote state Education Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester to Gill-Montague Superintendent Michael Sullivan, “the Department will also announce Gill-Montague’s exit from Level 4 status at that (Aug. 27) meeting” of the Gill-Montague School Committee.

We doubt that when state decided the district was under-performing back in 2007 that anyone knew it would take roughly seven years to untangle itself from not only student performance but with attitudes and behavior of the regional school board that, in the state’s eyes, was a significant detriment to public education. And we believe that it was the inability of individuals on the board to get beyond personal agendas and grievances that turned what might have been a faster turnaround into a lengthy run.

Recognizing and remembering what caused Gill-Montague Regional School District to earn the Level 4 designation may be in some crowds looking back, instead of ahead. But this is a case where, in the words of philosopher George Santayana, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Gill-Montague is not that far removed from the days of board dysfunction and budgetary disarray. And while healthy debate over educational matters and the direction of the district is a crucial part of the School Committee equation and community involvement, it must not serve to distract or diminish the effort to provide Gill and Montague youngsters with the education they deserve.

The blueprint has been drawn that will create a new era for the Gill-Montague Regional School District. Now it’s up to the district to follow those directions without distracting shortcuts and detours.

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