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Redistricting decision made in ‘cavalier manner’


The following letter was submitted to Dr. Alan Genovese, superintendent of schools as well as the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District School Committee for consideration during the School Committee meeting on Wednesday April 2. The letter was not acknowledged by the superintendent or the members of the School Committee until I requested that I be allowed to read it into the record during the question and comment section at the conclusion of the meeting.

By the complete lack of response that I received and the immediate unanimous vote to approve the redistricting proposal, it was apparent that the superintendent and the School Committee had made their decision to approve this flawed plan before even considering the concerns of those parents and taxpayers who are most directly affected by this injustice.

I would like to thank School Committee members Dr. Paul Funch and Peter Carson for their efforts in at least acknowledging that my position raised valid concerns and for expressing an interest in delaying a vote on this agenda item until they had a clear understanding of Dr. Genovese’s proposal. Their request was ignored and they were once again forced to acquiesce.

Although the School Committee did not receive Dr. Genovese’s complete proposal until that evening, he insisted that it be voted on immediately. I find it outrageous and personally offensive that such important decisions are being made in such a cavalier manner. We as a community should be deeply concerned with the direction our school district is taking we can no longer sit idly by and let this happen. Our voices must be heard.

Dear Superintendent Genovese and members of the School Committee:

I submit this letter to you as a concerned taxpayer of Groton and as a parent of children that will be affected by the redistricting proposal being submitted tonight for approval.

I urge you not to approve this proposal. It is short-sighted and contains no vision for the future. Transition is difficult for everyone and moving our children is clearly not desirable by anyone. However, the “bitter pill” of transferring children to different schools would be much easier to swallow if the process that was used was fair, equitable and based on factual data rather than the personal desires of a “protected” class within the community.

The proposed “gray zone” was established by identifying the current Groton Swallow Union families on a map, drawing a line around the perimeter of their locations and including everyone within that area. Principal Myerson has admitted at the last two community meetings that no Swallow Union family is affected by the proposal and that he did create the “gray zone” as indicated above. It is interesting to note that the families in Groton that currently attend Swallow Union do so by choice or have been directed to attend Swallow Union on an ad hoc, random basis due to the population constraints of the Florence Roche and Prescott schools. They do not currently attend due to any geographical considerations. Therefore, using these families as the criteria in establishing the new attendance districts is patently unfair and it creates a flawed model from which we cannot move forward effectively. It is destined to fail.

Pursuant to the Groton-Dunstable Regional Schools Policy Guidelines, there is an established criteria for establishing attendance areas. An approval of the proposal before you tonight would be in direct violation of those policies. The policies dictate that “students will attend the school in the attendance area in which they live.

“From time to time an overcrowded condition in an existing school, the development of new residential areas, or the opening of a new school may require the establishment or change of previously established school attendance areas.

“The committee will confer with community representatives prior to setting new attendance lines. However, the committee’s primary basis for judgment must be equality of educational opportunity for all students rather than the personal desires of any one group.”

Our school district is in a state of crisis. We cannot be making decisions based on the personal agendas of a limited few to the detriment and expense of the entire community. At the community redistricting meetings it was clear that the administration’s logic was faulty at best and dishonest at worst.

We were told that the criteria used was proximity to Swallow Union and efficiency of bus routes. Neither of these criteria were incorporated into the proposal before you. There are entire areas of Groton that are much closer to Swallow Union that were originally part of the “gray zone” and no longer are. It is “curious” that these areas do not contain current Swallow Union attendees. The bus routes in most sections of the proposed “gray zone” will not be efficient and in many cases will in effect be “double routes” serving both Swallow Union and Florence Roche. At the most recent meeting we were presented with “numbers” that this proposal was based upon. We, as parents, brought at least seven errors to the committee’s attention missing students, incorrect ages and numbers of students in the effected households.

It was also brought to the committees attention that the current “exodus” of families from the district to attend private schools and the “school choice” students we have in our district were not taken into consideration in their proposal. It is disheartening that these are the hard facts that this proposal is based upon. If we are to support a redistricting plan it must have a long-term vision for the future of our school district. It must be based on a thoughtful process tempered with integrity and foresight, not a decision that is being forced upon us as part of an ongoing pattern of management by emergency and crisis.

It would be in our best interest to hire a professional consultant to create a lasting redistricting plan derived from all of the relevant data without any personal interest or bias in the process. As our School Committee, you would be remiss in not insisting upon this.

There is a general feeling of hopelessness in the community concerning our schools. As parents and taxpayers, many of us feel marginalized and disenfranchised by the transitional process that we are experiencing. The Prescott School was closed with complete disregard for your own protocol and procedures. The community think tank that was recommended relative to the Prescott closure never came to fruition. The community redistricting meetings were unproductive and were created to provide mere “lip service” to the community. I am deeply concerned that a pending override will fail as a signal from the community of “no confidence” in the administration. The pattern of exclusion must stop now.

This redistricting proposal was created with the full expectation of failure. It was recommended by the administration that the “gray zone” be revisited by a standing committee every year. We will be in a constant state of flux and that is absolutely unacceptable.

A vote to approve this plan is short-sighted. If you allow this proposal to move forward you will be failing the community of your constituents, failing us as parents and taxpayers and you will be failing our children. I implore you not to vote for this proposal.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.

Very truly yours,