SAD 44 DIRECTOR RESPONDS ON ANDOVER
I serve on the SAD 44 Andover Withdrawal Committee as a school board director from Woodstock. I have consistently voted to keep the Andover Elementary School open because of its past excellent educational performance and critical role in community development.
I am concerned about some of the comments in the Feb. 28 Bethel Citizen article on Andover’s withdrawal proposal. The article states that the major sticking point in negotiations is that Andover wishes to maintain the right to choose where their students attend school while the recent counter proposal from SAD 44 requested a 10-year exclusive agreement for Andover students to attend SAD 44. The article further states that “committee members told those at the meeting that the committee this week sent a counter-proposal withdrawal agreement with that stipulation to SAD 44.”
Selectwoman Susan Merrow was concerned that SAD 44 was procrastinating. She said, “I’m concerned that the Board doesn’t know how serious this is. I don’t know if they’re getting information. They don’t seem to be in a hurry.”
The SAD 44 Withdrawal Committee sent the most recent counter-proposal withdrawal agreement to Andover on Jan. 25. As of the writing of this letter on Tuesday, March 5, SAD 44 has not received a written response from Andover. There is no Andover proposal on the table for SAD 44 to consider.
I consider the withdrawal and the negotiations very seriously and Dr. Murphy and SAD 44’s attorney have well informed me about the issues and consequences of withdrawal. The withdrawal from SAD 44 by Andover is a complex issue with many critical financial and organizational details that have to be considered carefully.
My major responsibility is to SAD 44 students and the remaining taxpayers, if Andover votes to withdraw. Therefore, I am working toward a withdrawal agreement with minimal if no negative financial and other consequences to the remaining students and citizens of SAD 44.
The SAD 44 School Board authorized our legal counsel by unanimous motion to negotiate on our behalf, in consultation with the Superintendent. Our subcommittee has been active and provided the guidance, which resulted in a written counteroffer back to the Andover Withdrawal Committee. The entire school board will approve any withdrawal agreement.
I will not know Andover’s conditions for withdrawal until I see a written response to our counter proposal of Jan. 25. Negotiating via newspaper articles or other means by individuals is not productive and only creates confusion. I can only respond to written proposals and counter proposals.
I hope that Andover citizens will carefully study the consequences and costs of withdrawal before they vote.