Temple residents rank options for reconfiguration
|Published: 10-02-2023 11:59 AM
More than 50 Temple residents turned out for a forum on the future of ConVal schools on Thursday evening, to weigh in on possible options for reconfiguring the district.
Though forum organizers have emphasized that the reconfiguration is still in a information-gathering phase, with no decision made on how to move forward, residents were asked to rank possible choices for what that reconfiguration might look like. As of Sept. 1, Temple Elementary School had 37 students, making it the smallest in the district.
Residents were asked to rank options including “combine as many schools as possible (including perhaps the middle schools) in order to provide students with better academic/enrichment options and save money,” “keep ConVal just like it is now, even if it is more expensive than other options and likely means reduced options for middle school and high school students,” “combine only some of the elementary schools in order to provide students with better academic/enrichment options and save some money” and “keep all the elementary schools, but move grades 5 and 6 back to them to help fill them up. This could save money, but would likely reduce academic and enrichment options for students in grades 5 and 6.”
While residents who attended the forum said they were aware of the rising costs of running the district, they were against any measure that would close elementary schools.
Gary Scholl of Temple said he “understands the economics” of looking to reconfiguration, but said closing elementary schools isn’t the way to go. He said he regularly attends the Thanksgiving luncheon put on by the elementary school, and said its a “fabulous community asset” that should remain in the community.
“If it costs more to ensure that happens, I think we have to consider that,” Scholl said.
Jill Connolly of Temple agreed, saying, “I definitely don’t think closing local schools is the answer, but I understand that enrollment is down, and something has to happen.”
Connolly, who currently has a child in middle school and one in high school, said if it came down to one or the other, she’d prefer to see middle school students moved to the elementary. She said her children had thrived in the small classes at the elementary school, and didn’t want to see that impacted.
Malissa and Byron Brockney of Temple, who have a son in kindergarten , agreed that closing a middle school might be a more-acceptable option than closing an elementary school, but said, ultimately, they didn’t have enough information to make the call one way or the other.
“I don’t hate that idea, but I really don’t have enough information,” Malissa Brockney said, noting that she doesn’t know what either option would do to class sizes or the district’s budget, or enough about the pros and cons of either scenario.
Byron Brockney said though the school portion of the tax is hefty, he noted that the purpose of taxes is for the public good, and that education is the “the No. 1 thing” to spend them on. He also said he found the wording of some of the options to be heavily weighted, saying it seemed as though they were providing “loaded questions, to guide people into giving opinions on a decision that’s already been made.”
A lack of information was also on the mind of Temple Selectman Ken Caisse, who said the format of the forum was not what he was expecting. He said he attended the meeting, hoping to here “what they were doing, and why there were doing it.”
Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172, Ext. 244, or asaari@ledgertran script.com. She’s on X @AshleySaariMLT.