August 15, 2020

Thoughts on the Withdrawal of K-8 by Rehoboth from the Regional School System

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At a recent Rehoboth Board of Selectman meeting it was mentioned that Rehoboth has a problem. We need to plan for a large town meeting of 1000+ people, no small task in the age of corona virus. Why such a large meeting? Chairman Skip Vadnais went on to explain there is a warrant article on the agenda asking if the voters would approve a K-8 withdrawal from the Dighton Rehoboth Regional School District.

What does that mean? Does that mean we are totally dissolving the Regional District? Are we going to have to build a new High school? Doesn’t Dighton have to approve our actions also? The answer to all these questions is a simple no. Why? Because our current Regional Agreement when it was written provided for just such a contingency (Section 9 on page 9).

What a withdrawal of K-8 does is return “local control” of their respective K-8 back to their individual towns should a town desire to exercise that option. Rehoboth, not the District would then be solely responsible for their K-8. Withdrawing K-8 still leaves the Dighton Rehoboth Regional District intact at the High School level, there is no need to build our own High School. What does “local control” actually mean for our K-8? It means that every penny we put into our new K-8 budget goes directly to the children and benefits families in Rehoboth. We would no longer need to contend with the competing priorities of what is good for Dighton as well.

I understand that people will have many questions of about how it will impact their unique situations. It was not my intention to address them all here, that would be impossible. The best answers will come from our Town officials, the Board of Selectman, our Finance Committee. I encourage you to inform yourself at every opportunity thru watching our Board of Selectman, Finance Committee meetings and, the School Committee meetings. Hopefully we can have a fact-based civil discussion that address the concerns of all our citizens.

I think you find this issue will resonate differently with people as we have a diverse population in Rehoboth. Some will see this solely as a financial issue, e.g. “What’s the bottom line”? Others will see this as a way to address grievances and improve what we have over the current K-8 school system.

Still others will see this as a way to have their vote counted once again. After all we went to 3 record size Town Meetings last year over the School District Assessment. Only to have our votes ignored and then threatened with a 2 Town “tent” meeting to try and override our votes by enlisting people from Dighton to vote against us. Finally, in the end the State ended up assuming Financial control of our District.

In summary I see this as not just a question about withdrawing K-8 but rather about what kind of future do you want the Town Rehoboth to have? Because the alternative narrative is the District is given even more control. They have been working on a new Regional Agreement that would do just that, by removing the language allowing us to assume local control of our K-8 and forever intertwine the fates of our two communities. Right now, we still have a choice, attend the Town Meeting and vote your conscience.

By Robert P. Gagnon
rehobothcrg@outlook.com or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/RehobothCitizens

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