Phillipston parents fighting for elementary school

  • Parents of Phillipston elementary school students attended last week's meeting of the Select Board, and urged its members to explore any and all avenues for keeping Phillipston Memorial Elementary School operating to serve local children. —Greg Vine

  • CUTLINE 3358: Parents of Phillipston elementary school students attended last week's meeting of the Select Board, and urged its members to explore any and all avenues for keeping Phillipston Memorial Elementary School operating to serve local children. CUTLINE 3353/54: Phillipston parent James Buzzell discusses options for the future of Phillipston Memorial Elementary School at Wednesday's meeting of the town's Select Board. CUTLINE 3361/62: Phillipston parent Bridgett Gauthier discusses options for the future of Phillipston Memorial Elementary School at Wednesday's meeting of the town's Select Board. CUTLINE 3352: Phillipston Select Board member Terry Dymek, Chair Kim Pratt, and member John Telepciak talked to local parents last week about the future of the Phillipston Memorial Elementary School. —Greg Vine

  • CUTLINE 3358: Parents of Phillipston elementary school students attended last week's meeting of the Select Board, and urged its members to explore any and all avenues for keeping Phillipston Memorial Elementary School operating to serve local children. CUTLINE 3353/54: Phillipston parent James Buzzell discusses options for the future of Phillipston Memorial Elementary School at Wednesday's meeting of the town's Select Board. CUTLINE 3361/62: Phillipston parent Bridgett Gauthier discusses options for the future of Phillipston Memorial Elementary School at Wednesday's meeting of the town's Select Board. CUTLINE 3352: Phillipston Select Board member Terry Dymek, Chair Kim Pratt, and member John Telepciak talked to local parents last week about the future of the Phillipston Memorial Elementary School. —Greg Vine

  • CUTLINE 3358: Parents of Phillipston elementary school students attended last week's meeting of the Select Board, and urged its members to explore any and all avenues for keeping Phillipston Memorial Elementary School operating to serve local children. CUTLINE 3353/54: Phillipston parent James Buzzell discusses options for the future of Phillipston Memorial Elementary School at Wednesday's meeting of the town's Select Board. CUTLINE 3361/62: Phillipston parent Bridgett Gauthier discusses options for the future of Phillipston Memorial Elementary School at Wednesday's meeting of the town's Select Board. CUTLINE 3352: Phillipston Select Board member Terry Dymek, Chair Kim Pratt, and member John Telepciak talked to local parents last week about the future of the Phillipston Memorial Elementary School. —Greg Vine

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 6/9/2019 10:50:21 AM

PHILLIPSTON – More than a dozen parents showed up at Wednesday’s meeting of the Select Board to urge its members to explore any avenues that might be taken to save Phillipston Memorial Elementary School. The future of the school remains uncertain in the wake of the failure of a Proposition 2 ½ override which had been proposed to plug a nearly $1.1 million hole in the FY20 budget of the Narragansett Regional School District.

The meeting was held in the conference room at the town’s fire station, instead of at the town hall.

Voters in Phillipston approved funding their $93,000 share of the override at both the annual town meeting and later in balloting in the annual town election. Templeton voters at the annual town meeting endorsed funding that town’s $988,000 portion of the override, but the proposal failed in subsequent voting in the annual town election there.

Leading into Wednesday’s discussion, Select Board Chair Kim Pratt told parents, “We understand how you feel. I’m sure you are mad, and sad, and you’re anxious, and you want to know what you can do. I was hoping tonight that we could use our energies – not with anger, not with blame; what I want to hear is what do you guys think you want to do. What action do you think the town can take?”

Pratt also said the board had received 80 responses to a survey that asked a series of questions on how to address the issue of the school’s future. A total of 650 surveys had been distributed. Results had not been tabulated by meeting time.

Parent James Buzzell, whose daughter attends first grade at Phillipston Memorial, responded, “I would say explore the idea of removing the elementary school from the school district. I know that was one of the suggestions in the survey and I agree with that 100 percent.” “I don’t know what everybody else wants to do about it,” he said, “but I didn’t move back to Phillipston so my kid could go to Templeton schools.”

Plans call for Phillipston elementary school-age children to attend the new elementary school in Templeton starting with the next academic year. Kindergarten and preschool students from Templeton would in turn travel to Phillipston to attend school at Memorial.

Buzzell said he has a couple of issues on his mind.

“The teachers up there,” he said, “I don’t want to pick any of them to say they’re not going to teach anymore. And secondly, I’m not putting my daughter on a one-hour bus ride. She’s 8 years old. That’s gonna be two hours on the bus for that kid. That’s a long time on a bus for an 8-year-old kid.”

Bridgett Gauthier said Templeton parents are unlikely to appreciate having to put their young children on an hour-long bus ride.

“We’re speaking on behalf of the Templeton parents, also,” she said, “because their kids are going to be shifted, too, to our school that we want our kids to stay at. Their pre-schoolers and kindergarteners are going to be on a bus for an hour a day. These kids, some of them, just got potty-trained.”

Speaking of Phillipston students, Gauthier said, “This is their home. Some of these kids have even stated that ‘this is the first time I’ve ever felt safe.’ That breaks your heart, and now we’re going to take that away because it fixes somebody else’s budget.”

“It’s not even our budget,” she continued. “That’s the problem, they (Templeton voters) made the choice. We voted not to go to the new school. How are we being forced to do so? It’s just not right.”

Gauthier also expressed concern over the effect of large class sizes at the new Templeton Elementary School on students, particularly those with special needs.

“It’s not fair to the kids or the teachers, who we’re going to burn out,” she said. “They’re going to get burnt out and they’re not going to do their job. It’s not fair to ask that of anyone.”

Parents made a broad range of suggestions, including: removing the school from the Narragansett Regional School District and having the town of Phillipston run it independently; seeking membership with another district; forming a new school district with another community, and; having parents send their children to other school districts via school choice.

Pratt said board members would take a look at the results of the survey and weigh parents’ comments in trying to determine the way forward.

Select Board member John Telepciak suggested seeking the advice of town counsel.

“What recourse do we have?” he asked. “Can we file an injunction? Can we put a stay in place? Can we delay? I’m just not sure. Is the (district) agreement that binding? It would be a good thing to see what we can do, if anything.”

The board decided it would discuss when and where to seek counsel. Members also said results of the survey should be known soon.


E-Edition & Local Ads


Weather



athol forecast

Most Popular


North Quabbin Commons growing as Athol seeks more business opportunities

Obituaries-Archives

Social Media




Athol Daily News

PO Box 1000
225 Exchange Street
Athol, MA 01331
(978) 249-3535

 

Copyright © 2019 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.