Some parents want to stay in ConVal

Town officials’ decision to explore withdrawal options has some in town worried

TEMPLE — The Select Board has opened a discussion about forming a study group to determine the town’s interest in leaving ConVal or realigning with another district. But for one portion of the population — district parents — the answer to that question is: Not at all.

Select Board Chair John Kieley said in a meeting April 9 that rising school taxes have been a concern of residents in recent years, as the school population is shrinking while rising costs have increased the Temple tax rate. Kieley said he has never had as many constituents approaching him about a single subject.

Board members also cited test scores and protecting the local elementary school as concerns.

But resident Sheryl Nielsen, who has two children in the district, said she was happy with the education her children are receiving in the ConVal School District, and she has no interest in moving them to a different district.

“Everyone’s always open for discussion,” she said on Sunday, “But you have to talk to the people it’s going to affect, and take that into consideration. And I think taking time aside to dedicate to a study group is a waste of time. If they just approached the parents, they’d know what we want.”

Resident Krista Cravin, whose two children attend Temple Elementary School, agreed, saying that she also would like to keep the status quo and stay with ConVal.

“I know a lot of residents in town that are looking to have lower taxes are those that don’t have children in the school system any longer,” she said. “If [the Select Board] had conferred with the parents in the school system, they would know we don’t want to leave.”

Another concern for Temple is the protection of the elementary school, according to Kieley. Consolidating elementary schools is one way for districts to save cost, and Kieley expressed concerns that Temple’s small elementary school could be a target for that in the future.

If the Temple Elementary School being closed down was a imminent threat, parents might be more open to talking about withdrawal, said resident Steve Lechner. But that’s a decision that’s not even on the table right now, so even discussing alternative options seems premature, he said. He hadn’t heard any discontent from parents in the district, and from his perspective, the conversation has come out of the blue.

“If they chose to close Temple [Elementary School], I think the town would decide to pull out,” Lechner said. “I don’t think they’d want to close the school. But starting the discussion now, seems like a reaction to a fear of the unknown.”

Nielsen said that if Temple Elementary School was ever closed, she would still like to see her children stay with the district and attend Peterborough’s elementary school.

Cravin said the small, quiet atmosphere of the district had attracted her, and she’d like to continue educating her children at ConVal.

Nielsen agreed, saying, “There’s a reason we moved to Temple, and the reason was to be part of the ConVal School District,” she said. “I chose to come over here for the smaller school and class settings and to become part of the ConVal School district. If I wanted to be part of Mascenic I would have moved over that way. If I wanted to be part of Wilton and Lyndeborough, I would have moved over that way.”

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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