Dublin Education Advisory Committee is ready to prepare report

Dublin Consolidated School.

Dublin Consolidated School. STAFF FILE PHOTO BY CAMERON CASHMAN

By CAMERON CASHMAN

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 06-20-2024 12:03 PM

The Dublin Education Advisory Committee (DEAC) officially moved to start drafting its report to the Select Board about education in Dublin, and members have also decided to present an abbreviated version to the ConVal Feasibility Study Committee at its Aug. 8 meeting.

Now that the committee has solicited input from the community via an online survey and public forum, members feel they have enough information to begin moving toward a formal report for the Select Board on their findings about the quality and cost of education in town.

The report will also lay out the four main options for providing education for Dublin students the DEAC has considered: remain in ConVal with restructured Articles of Agreement, withdraw from the ConVal district while remaining in the SAU, remain in ConVal while restructuring Dublin Consolidated School (DCS) to a specialty school, allowing other districts to tuition in; or some combination of the previous options, using a voucher system for maximum parental choice. 

The DEAC has not decided on which of the four options is best for the town, and will let the Select Board decide whether or not the committee will make a recommendation to the feasibility study committee. If Dublin’s withdrawal from the SAU is considered feasible, it will ultimately be decided in a vote by all nine towns in the district.

During a public forum June 13, committee members received criticism about how they handled the online survey,  specifically that they released preliminary results before the survey was officially closed. The DEAC acknowledged the point, but Chairman Jay Schechter and member Blake Anderson felt that it would not influence the final results of the survey, and emphasized their commitment to transparency.

At the time of the forum, the survey had 47 responses – the majority indicating that keeping an elementary school open in town was  important to them. While many responses indicated some level of dissatisfaction with ConVal, many were open to remaining in the SAU in some form as long as Dublin Consolidated School (DCS) was kept open.

As of Tuesday, the survey has 107 responses – a number that Anderson noted was higher than the number of students Dublin sends to ConVal. For this reason, the committee feels there is enough feedback to begin thinking about a report, although the survey will remain open until the end of the month or responses drastically slow down. If the results of the survey change before the completion of the report, it will be adjusted as necessary.

Anderson said that the results of the survey have remained consistent, despite suggestions that releasing preliminary results would influence responses.

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“That was my first takeaway – the message hasn’t changed in any material way,” he said. “Other than by making it more public, more people are filling it out.” 

Schechter added that while some survey comments were “unkind,” most were constructive, and will be published with the results of the survey.

“The comments are absolutely worth reading,” he said. 

ConVal Business Administrator Brian Cisneros recently released the estimated costs it would take for Dublin and Francestown to keep their elementary schools open and run their own districts. The report states that it would be more expensive for the towns to operate their own districts, but DEAC Select Board liaison Carole Monroe disagrees.

“Based on the numbers they provided us with, I think we can do it,” she said, adding that they were likely much higher estimates than what Dublin would end up paying.

“And we get a school,” Anderson  added.