I want to give you a quick update on a couple of important topics.
First, the Town has contracted with a company called OnSolve for an alert system called CodeRed. This system will provide us with a way to provide residents via phone, email, and/or text with information about both emergencies like power outages and road closures and routine events like meetings. Starting next school year, CodeRed will also be the way that Scotland Elementary School will contact families about weather closings and other events.
The system requires you to provide us with your preferred methods for being contacted. Signups will begin in the next couple of days. Details will be available on this website as well as on flyers at the post office, school, and Town Hall. In addition, if we already have your phone numbers, we will be calling you to invite you to sign up. We hope that most of you will.
Second, the Ad Hoc Committee exploring the possibility of creating a cooperative elementary school to serve the towns of Hampton and Scotland is nearing the end of its project. We have worked for eighteen months to create a highly detailed, carefully assembled proposal that includes a model staffing plan and budget for the school. We will be detailing the plan at public information sessions in early May, and an advisory vote shortly afterwards. These sessions will be an opportunity to learn about the proposal and to let the Committee know your thoughts, opinions, and suggestions for it before we turn it over to the Boards of Education for their consideration. The advisory vote is intended as a way to let the Boards know what you think of the proposal to create a cooperative school. Once the Boards have the final proposal and the results of the vote, it will be up to them to decide whether or not to adopt it or any version of it. If they do, then because the proposal involves a change in the use of town-owned real estate (the school buildings), it will go to the Town Meetings in both towns for their approval.
The Ad Hoc Committee does not have the authority to impose a cooperative school on the towns. Only the Boards of Education can do that. We are strictly an advisory committee.
Some of the Ad Hoc Committee’s work—drafting the contract that would govern the cooperative arrangement between the two Boards of Education--has been conducted in executive session because we were discussing very sensitive matters, and doing it with an attorney. Controversy is unavoidable in a topic this important. By meeting behind a closed door, we wanted to ensure that the controversy would be over the actual proposal, and not over ideas that came up but were not adopted. I expect the draft agreement to be available to the public in the next couple of weeks. Its general outlines are already available on the Committee’s website, https://www.hs-interdistrictcommittee.org/entities/ad-hoc-committee-for-interdistrict-cost-sharing
The model budget and staffing plan were assembled and discussed in public. The documents, minutes, and recordings of those meetings are and always have been available on the Committee’s website, I urge you to take a look at those pages prior to the information sessions so that you can begin to acquaint yourself with this proposal. And all our meetings are noticed on the website as well as on the towns’ websites and bulletin boards. Anyone is welcome to attend and participate in audience of citizens discussions.
Two more points to clarify: First, this project has nothing to do with a recent decision by the Scotland Board of Education to reduce its paraprofessional staff or to increase the salaries of its administrators. While the BOE does have representation on the Committee, the BOE budget proceedings and our proceedings have been entirely independent. The only thing we have in common is that both groups are trying to find ways to provide the best education for Scotland’s students at the most optimal costs to its taxpayers.
Finally, I want to make it clear that the Ad Hoc Committee is not trying to shut down the Hampton School. Of course, if we create a cooperative school, one of the buildings will no longer be used as a school. But the decision about which one will close is not ours to make.
We will of course inform you as soon as we have dates set for the information sessions and vote. In the meantime, please check out the website, and if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Or talk to the other members of the committee. Scotland representatives are Selectman Wendy Sears, BOE chair Cassidy Martin, Tom McAvoy, and Clare D’Appollonio.