Andover parents should have choice
To the Editor:
We write regarding your article that captured so clearly and yet succinctly the essence of the discussion at the SAD 44 Board meeting Monday a week ago on the Andover withdrawal matter.
The one significant open point in the Andover/SAD 44 withdrawal negotiations is a requirement that SAD 44 seeks to impose on Andover that 90 percent of all Andover students in grades 6 through 12 must go to SAD 44 schools for the ten years covered by the withdrawal agreement.
Such a requirement is antithetical to parental choice and seeks to keep Andover as a satellite of SAD 44 rather than as its own independent district as the law requires upon withdrawal and as Andover residents have repeatedly shown in town votes that they overwhelmingly want. It also is something that has never been done except where the withdrawing town needs to have assurance that it can send its students to the district it is leaving. Andover neither seeks nor wants that assurance. While we very much expect that many Andover parents will continue to want their children to go to SAD 44 schools, SAD 44 should not be seeking to impose that requirement on Andover, nor should it feel that it has to given the high quality of its schools.
There has been much give and take on both sides in the overall negotiations – though the SAD 44 Board team has failed to appear at a single negotiation session but instead has left its superintendent and its lawyer to do all of the negotiating despite Andover's repeated requests to meet with SAD 44's whole negotiating team, including its board members.
That being said, with this one significant issue finally resolved, the withdrawal agreement can be finalized for presentation to the State Department of Education and thereafter to the voters of Andover so that, assuming a positive vote, Andover's new district can be in place for the start of the 2014-2015 academic year.
The Andover Withdrawal Committee
Susan Merrow, Chair; Tim Akers; Paula Lee; David Percival