On the sixth of March the voters of Shirley will participate in the most crucial vote in the history of our community. As members of the Board of Selectmen we reluctantly signed the Town Warrant for the Special Town Meeting to be held March 6. We did this because according to law the board was required to take that action. As was stated previously we did not, nor do we, like having our responsibilities to the voters controlled by the Commonwealth. We feel strongly that the ability to vote our conscience was compromised as a result of this situation.
We do believe that the members of the school committee are convinced that regionalization is indeed the way to go. It will, in their opinion, provide a better opportunity for our youth to attain higher educational goals. We cannot argue this point and can only believe that may be the case. However, the responsibility of the School Committee encompasses the school department while the role of the Selectmen is far different. Our responsibility is not only to the school system but the overall town government.
This responsibility prompted the Board of Selectmen to ask what seemed to be a relevant question concerning the cost of the program. The initial numbers sent to us from the school business manager, Mr. Katz indicated that such cost was prohibitive. While there was a possibility we may survive the first two years of regionalization the last three would create such a deficit in town government that we would require large overrides just to provide basic services. We, the members of the board, did not come to this conclusion based on emotions but facts. Our evaluation of the town budget could at best produce only an increase of $1.1 million over the first five year period should regionalization be come a reality. Those numbers, the result of a study by the assessor’s office along with our office, made it evident that this program could not possibly work according to all available income to our community. When at a recent school meeting concerning regionalization the board asked the question as to what would happen to the town side of government should we merge with the Town of Ayer. There was no answer because such an answer would have impacted the process there and then concerning the impact of regionalization. In other words the simple answer is we would not have sufficient monies to run both the school and the town. At this writing the school has still failed to provide the numbers necessary for the selectmen to make a business decision as to whether or not this program will become fiscally responsible.
The decision to not support this regionalization is based solely on numbers and not on an emotional approach to education.
ENRICO C. CAPPUCCI
Shirley Board of