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APEX: Groton needs to find common ground, end acrimony


As one of the original founders and co-chairs of APEX (“Advocates Promoting Educational Excellence”), I felt it was incredibly important to address the unsettling level of negative rhetoric directed at and attacks made against a group of parents and concerned citizens who, for the last three years, have spent countless hours defending the needs of our schools, children and teachers.

Reading the posts on such list serves as TAG and articles in both print and online media, it became clear that the true activity conducted by APEX was unknown to this community.

APEX is an advocacy group dedicated to the health of the Groton-Dunstable school district and the towns of Groton and Dunstable. We are residents of the towns of Groton and Dunstable; we are taxpayers and we are parents. We support our two communities as a whole and the proper funding of BOTH school and municipal services. We share information and attempt to voice the concerns and needs of parents and children.

Unlike many other towns, we are smaller in numbers. When speaking to parents in such towns as Concord, Sudbury, Weston, Ipswich and Acton, huge numbers of parents literally storm the castle if there is any potential threat to their schools and the academic well-being of their children. Their voices are heard with respect and their schools are deeply valued.

APEX was formed in response to the school budget crisis, started long before APEX existed. The crisis began under the “leadership” of many of the people who now are so desperately trying to scapegoat APEX. I hope these individuals will take a hard look in the mirror, remember the past and now make every effort to move forward in a respectful and positive manner.

For the FY15 school district budget, APEX was behind the successful passing of both the Groton debt exclusion and the Dunstable override, and lauded for its effort. During this year’s entire school budget cycle, APEX has fully supported the Superintendent and the School Committee.

We have no voting rights with regard to the approval of the school budget. After the initial school budget was approved, we communicated with and met with the Superintendent, members of the School Committee, and members of the BoS whenever asked throughout the entire process.

We made sure we were completely transparent in whatever support we could offer, emailing both the Superintendent and the Chair of the School Committee with what methods we could use to help them communicate information regarding the budget and how we hoped to get voters to the polls.

We spent countless hours creating websites, Facebook pages, and email distribution lists to help the District share information.

We donated funds to create and produce electronic and printed fliers and signs to promote a sense of awareness in our community with regard to the needs of our schools. We stood and held signs in unity with members of the School Committee and the BoS at all of the election polls.

We spent hours and hours away from our families to attend not only School Committee meetings, but also BoS and FinComm meetings. We have volunteered to be on other town committees such as the Economic Development Committee.

In the weeks leading up to the first round of elections in both Groton and Dunstable, we sat around a kitchen table with both Groton AND Dunstable members of the School Committee to make sure we were doing everything we could to help. When both the past and current Chairs of the Groton BoS asked if they could attend an APEX executive board meeting, we invited them into my home. The entire APEX executive board was present and went around the room giving honest and heart-rendering testimonials regarding the needs of our schools — of the children in this community. The current Chair left the meeting, thanking APEX for all of its work and stressing what an asset our group was to the community.

However, now while we watch our district in complete turmoil, all of this work has been forgotten. Instead, a group of hardworking and dedicated parents has become yet one more source for certain members of this community to place blame.

It is disheartening and incredibly troubling to see the level of animosity that has been created in our town. It is certainly not representative of the community my husband and I thought we had decided to raise our family in.

The only way things will now change is if parents and members of the community, who value a strong town and a strong school district, demand that our public officials — the BoS, the FinComm and the School Committee — put an end to the intense acrimony in our town.

They must find common ground and stand together in a united effort to heal and rebuild our community and our schools.

Our children deserve so much better.

Our town deserves so much better.

Amy Kelly