Thank you all for all the time you have dedicated to our schools. I may not agree with your decisions but certainly recognize how much time and effort you dedicate to our schools.
My name is Karen McGlynn, I am a homeowner, tax payer and currently have three students in the South Kingstown school system; a 2nd grader at Matunuck, 5th grader at BRMS and 8th grader at CCMS. I have been been involved as much as possible. I was not able to attend the facilities workshops over the past year but have attended as many meetings as possible and watched remotely when I couldn’t attend.
I personally support Option B, I feel the enrollment data supported the need for only 3 elementary schools. I feel it was unfortunate an elementary school was named in the process. I would have supported the closing of anyone of the elementary schools including my home school Matunuck Elementary. I continue to support the closing of an elementary school, if not two elementary schools. We are in a very difficult time, we need to become fiscally sound and make decisions to ensure we can continue to be fiscally sound. At the same time we are looking to spend money on improvements. The operational saving of closing an elementary school would be felt annually in our budget and savings in the overall facilities project.
At this point with the information I have have today I do not support raising my taxes. I do not feel we are making the tough decisions to be a long term fiscally sound school system. As enrollment continues to decrease due to birth rates and now the ability of students to attend an out of district public school our funding from the state will continue to decrease. This is a problem that has been going on for years and we are at the proverbial crossroad.
We need big savings, big savings can only come through consolidation. One of the suggestions I believe is for a principal and nurse to be shared across multiple elementary schools. I think this is a short sighted choice for a savings. We would be better off combining these schools. Another option/rumor I have heard is displacing sixth grade for the 2019-2020 school year allowing Broad Rock to be off line for operations savings and construction to begin with no students. As a parent off a sixth grader in 2019-2020 I do not support this option either. The bonds have not been approved and cost estimates for the project are not complete. At this point in the process it feels like rash decisions are being made in order to make obtain slight operational savings.
During one of the meetings last week it was stated the 2019-2020 budget process and the facilities project are two unique projects and should be handled as such. I agree they are unique but they are intertwined and require to be looked at in unison. The school department is a small business and if we are planning on asking for a considerable amount of money we need to make the tough choices now and act responsibly. As Mr. Zarnetske states we will be replacing direct services, policy/fire/teachers, with debt. We are asking for twice as much debt as this town have ever taken on. I think we have amazing teachers, but I do not feel we are doing what is best for the tax payers, children or teachers.
Previously there was discussions of a proposed five year plan, this committee needs to lay out a plan and communicate that plan. I believe to get community support this plan needs to be crystal clear on what steps we will take to work towards balancing our budget as well as clearly defining the proposed education bond and how all the funds will be utilized. Without a clear direction I couldn’t vote for the educational bond today and certainly could not recommend doing so to any of my neighbors. I live in a community where 90% of the population do not have children in the school system, these are the same individuals who opposed sidewalks to the elementary school. The sidewalks were viewed as “sidewalks that go to nowhere”.
With the level of uncertainty it is sad to say I spent the day researching alternatives for high school for my daughter.