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As many of you may have heard, either through print media, public-access cable or word of mouth, the Shirley School Committee is in the midst of exploring the idea of regionalizing our school district. There are many factors that led us to initiate informal discussions on this matter, but the main factor is timing.

Shirley finds itself this year facing the end of our current 10-year agreement with both Ayer and Lunenburg for education of our high school students, the need for serious renovations (or possible complete overhaul) of the Lura A. White School, a Devens contract that will come to an end after the 2008-09 school year and the need to hire a superintendent of schools by the end of the 2007-08 school year. In addition to these matters, Shirley finds itself on the short end of the Choice-in/Choice out equation — down approximately $500K.

We find this to be an extraordinary opportunity and, indeed, our duty to explore alternative ways to combat budget shortfalls and reinstate educational excellence in our schools. With negotiations nearing their conclusion for contract extensions with Ayer and Lunenburg, we are free to focus on a long-term solution. Last month, the School Committee voted to place an article on the ballot for this spring’s STM requesting the formation of a Regionalization Study Committee, to be selected by the Town Moderator. Open for discussion would be possible full (K-12) or partial (5/6 to 12) regionalization with Ayer and/or Lunenburg. Also, since we do need to settle on a leadership scenario for the coming years, it seems the perfect time to explore possible shared positions between districts — even if it is done outside of regionalization. It is extremely important to us that you, as citizens of Shirley, are aware of the options as they are presented; We will make every effort to pass vital information on to you as we receive it.

We find this to be an extraordinary opportunity and, indeed, our duty to explore alternative ways to combat budget shortfalls and reinstate educational excellence in our schools. With negotiations nearing their conclusion for contract extensions with Ayer and Lunenburg, we are free to focus on a long-term solution. Last month, the School Committee voted to place an article on the ballot for this spring’s STM requesting the formation of a Regionalization Study Committee, to be selected by the Town Moderator. Open for discussion would be possible full (K-12) or partial (5/6 to 12) regionalization with Ayer and/or Lunenburg. Also, since we do need to settle on a leadership scenario for the coming years, it seems the perfect time to explore possible shared positions between districts — even if it is done outside of regionalization. It is extremely important to us that you, as citizens of Shirley, are aware of the options as they are presented; We will make every effort to pass vital information on to you as we receive it.

The School Committee requests your input as to the future make-up of Shirley’s schools and encourages a free exchange of ideas to enable us to make choices that will have a positive impact on the quality of education we deliver to your children. Questions or other correspondence may be sent to the Shirley School Committee, 7 Keady Way, or via e-mail at SSDSchoolCommittee@shirley-ma.gov.

Sincerely,

SHIRLEY SCHOOL COMMITTEE

Paul Wilson, chairman

Robert Schuler, vice chairman

Gary Bourassa, secretary

Bob Prescott

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