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Francestown Elementary School and consolidation discussed at ConVal School Board meeting

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/8/2020 9:22:13 PM
Modified: 1/8/2020 9:21:38 PM

The ConVal School District is not planning to close Francestown Elementary School, nor any school in the district, School Board members said at their Tuesday night meeting.

Members of the public representing Francestown expressed frustration at what they saw as the administration’s lack of transparency and honesty regarding questions of consolidation, and Board members expressed frustration at what many saw as an endless, circular conversation.

At the meeting, board members received a draft document containing Superintendent Kimberly Rizzo-Saunders’ answers to some of the questions posed at the December forum.

The Board determined that answers to some questions would be distributed to the public after the Board’s communications committee could work with them. 

“You need peoples’ support, understanding, and trust to close a school. You’ve undermined that,” Francestown resident Brad Howland said. “It’s not a good idea, when people request information ... that you only grudgingly produce information, and as little as possible” at that.

“Answer peoples’ questions,” Howland urged. “Just be honest and forthright with what your considerations are.”

Francestown resident Kevin Pobst added that the town didn’t ask for the public forum the Board held at FES in December, and questioned the rush to return information to the public. He said the rush undermines their message that FES and other small schools are not under threat.

“I chose to involve the town of Francestown,” Board Chairman Stephan Morrissey said, in order to make the residents aware of a “serious problem” he said the school district addresses regularly.

Morrissey said he is afraid of what would happen if the school district were unexpectedly forced to deal with a petition from a group of voters to close the school. 

Board member Alan Edelkind introduced a warrant article that would have required the school district to develop a comprehensive analysis and implementation plan detailing the social, educational, and financial impacts of closing a school or redistributing students prior to proposing any closure.

It was not approved in a vote, although fellow board members agreed they needed that information in the face of a potential petition from the public. 

“The topic of school closures drew me here fifteen years ago,” said board member Rich Cahoon, and that the board should be prepared for the “when is a small school too small” discussion. 


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