Vote on Andover school raises questions
To the Editor:
To all towns of SAD 44:
A good question people might want to ask themselves these days is "Who are we electing from our towns to sit on our School Board?"
Last night (May 16), as I sat in at a school board meeting as a resident of Andover, holding onto the "hope" that the 16 board members who held the fate of our school in their hands would find compassion for our town, it was very eye-opening.
I'm not someone to write letters to the editor, I'm usually quiet and blend in with a crowd. However certain things must have light shed onto them, and I feel compelled to share with you, what I heard and Saw with my own two eyes and ears.
Now before I continue on, this is not a ploy to get back at anyone with cheap shots, this is just the facts. I knew going to this meeting that continuing to close the Andover Elementary School was still a high probability. I didn't go thinking we had this in a hand bag, or wearing rose glasses.
What I wasn't prepared for was to listen to Debbie Webster, who is elected by Newry counter Andover School board member Tim Akers after he stressed the benefits of a small school for a learning environment.
Debbie came back and stated, that large Schools are beneficial to students as well. I already feel that Debbie Webster sitting on SAD 44 School Board is a huge conflict of interest as she is opening her own private middle school and could potentially benefit from Andovers School closing.
Perhaps people would rather send their kids to Newry (her private school) instead of busing Andover kids all the way to Bethel? Wouldn't her Vote to close Andover Elementary be to her own benefit?
Now going back to where I had started, Debbie Webster feels a larger school has a lot to offer our children of Andover. If we look back two months ago in the Bethel Citizen this is what it reads -- "The Websters decided to teach their children at home because a public school couldn't match the teacher-pupil ratio she could provide."
Is she saying a large school can't offer as much as a small school can? That's ironic because last night she made sure to point out that a large school was good for our children in Andover.
The article goes on to say, "We can meet their academic needs individually in a shorter time period than a typical school setting, giving them consistent time to just be kids -- play, read, relax and create,"
She said. "It was also a strong moral decision -- we wanted to be sure to instill in them strong core values before sending them away all day long."
So two months ago she feels kids need to have kid time to play, read and relax and be kids and not be gone away from the home all day? How does she feel about our kids being gone all day long on a 45-minute bus ride?
In today's world, you have to be careful what you say cause it can come back and bite you.
Also I think it's very important for the public to know that Stacey Sandvoss, a school bBoard member for Greenwood, asked the superintendent not once, but twice, "If we vote to keep Andover School open, you're saying no other jobs would be cut?"
Superintendent David Murphy assured her that was correct and actually it would re-instate two jobs (because of two recent retirements in Andover School).
Surely after her checking her t's and dotting her i's she would vote not only to keep Andover Open at no additional cost or loss of jobs, but it would also give two teachers back a job. Wrong! She knowingly voted to close AES, and to shut-off the opportunity for two teachers to get their jobs back. Why? So the money can sit in a contingency funds.
The money to keep Andover open, $214,000, is still going into the budget and not saving any towns money. Instead it will be a nest egg for SAD 44. I really think some of the school board members have pushed through their own personal agendas. We elect people to represent our towns and make educational decisions to better SAD 44 not just Bethel.
It feels like we're in a one-sided relationship. We are good enough to take money from, but not good enough to be extended an Olive Branch.
We only asked for one more year for SAD 44 to support us while we look into other options. That being said, I think towns should really look into who they elect to sit on the board.
I will say that there are some school board members putting education first and I thank them for that. Unfortunately the truth is, it's the minority.