Andover Elementary School
Andover is deciding whether it will negotiate over continued membership in SAD 44.
That process requires two town votes to make any change. The first one (on Sept. 18) is to authorize a special town committee to undertake negotiations with SAD 44 and to spend no more than $24,000 for its work.
If that first town vote is favorable, a second town vote is required to take any action. That vote will take place some months later, only after the results of the negotiations have defined the specific proposed terms and those negotiation results have been approved by the State Board of Education and disclosed publicly to all voters so that every voter can decide for himself or herself whether those terms are good ones for Andover.
While Andover’s proposed withdrawal from SAD 44 is one possible outcome of these negotiations, it is not the only one. For example, the negotiations could result in a proposal presented to Andover voters in that second town vote that Andover stay in SAD 44 with a binding commitment made by SAD 44 to keep the Andover Elementary School open for the long term provided that its enrollment does not fall below a specific number of students.
Without the negotiating leverage provided to Andover by the town’s authorization of the withdrawal petition on Sept. 18, however, there is almost no chance of that happening, and Andover Elementary School will have its doors shut by SAD 44 within a year or two.
In fact, this whole process in Andover started two years ago when SAD 44 made plans to shut down the Elementary School for good. Andover reacted vigorously with a plan that allowed the school to stay open for another year. And it remains open to this day, but precariously so under current SAD 44 plans.
Many in Andover, even those with children who have long since graduated or with no children at all, regard their school as critical to the Andover community. The school encourages new families to come to Andover and thus keeps home values up and its population diverse in age. It also encourages excellent teachers to stay at Andover Elementary School knowing that they can have a real future there. And especially, it keeps Andover’s young children from having to ride the bus for ninety minutes or more each way every day just to get to elementary school in other SAD 44 towns.
So this first Andover vote on Sept. 18 if successful decides only that negotiations between the town and SAD 44 will proceed. Yet that result in itself gives Andover the opportunity to seek and obtain a really good outcome both for its taxpayers and for its children.
Ad-Hoc School Committee