Community Conversations: Tom Burgess – The meanings of the articles

ConVal School Board

ConVal School Board COURTESY PHOTO


For the Ledger-Transcript

Published: 04-02-2024 8:01 AM

Modified: 04-02-2024 8:36 AM

On March 12, the residents of the nine ConVal towns went to the polls to vote on the proposed school budget and 11 other articles related to the operation of the school system. 

The voters approved 11 of the 12 articles. Let's focus on three articles and their implications for the 2024-2025 school year and beyond. Those three articles are Article 1, the school budget; Article 2, the revision to the collective bargaining agreement, and Article 10, the amending of the district’s Articles of Agreement.

Article 1, the school budget, was supported by 59% of the voters.  The ConVal administration and the School Board's budget priorities are to provide high-quality education to our students while simultaneously practicing fiscal restraint on behalf of the taxpayers. It is gratifying that the budget had such strong support.  

Article 2, the revision to the collective bargaining agreement, passed with an even higher percentage. It was supported by 64% of the voters. The goal of this article was to improve ConVal's ability to recruit and retain our teachers and staff.  The voters were asked to approve an increase in the ConVal teachers’/staff's salaries, to put them in line with the districts around us. Almost two-thirds of the voters supported this measure. This demonstrates the appreciation the ConVal community has for the people who educate their children.

Please note that this article only pertains to the 2024-2025 school year, which is the last year of the current collective bargaining agreement. Next March, there will be another article, asking voters to approve the next collective bargaining agreement.

The only article the voters turned down was Article 10, which would have amended the 1967 Articles of Agreement. The School Board had put forth this article because it was seeking the authority to close four of our elementary schools. According to Prismatic, the outside consultant hired by the school board, this proposed consolidation of the schools would have improved the quality of our elementary education system while saving 4% to 7% from our overall school budget. 

All of our elementary schools, and in fact, all of our schools, are significantly under-enrolled. To be successful, this article would have had to pass by a two-thirds majority, as stipulated in the Articles of Agreement. It did not even reach 50%. It was rejected 55% to 45%. 

So if we aren't going to consolidate our elementary schools, are we satisfied with the status quo?  What's next?

The school board will be meeting on April 2 to discuss this matter. Katherine Heck, the Greenfield School Board representative, and I look forward to sharing what ideas the board is considering, and holding a dialogue with you at the Community Conversations, hosted by the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript and the Monadnock Center for History and Culture, on April 10,  It will be at Bass Hall at the Monadnock Center in Peterborough from 7 to 8 p.m.

Tom Burgess is Peterborough representative to the ConVal School Board. He and Katherine Heck of Greenfield will represent the School Board during the “Where Does the ConVal School District Go From Here?” Community Conversation April 10 at 7 p.m. in Bass Hall at the Monadnock Center for History and Culture in Peterborough. The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript and Monadnock Center are sponsoring the event.