To the Editor:
I support the recommendation for school consolidation. I read the MARS report and watched the online presentation to the School Committee. It justifies the School Building Committee consolidation plan that we discussed during design and construction of two schools at the Jacobs campus. I supported the schools on every vote as a member of the School Building Committee and on the turf field.
Current school buildings’ 50 percent capacities are not efficient. Currently, Hull has 802 children enrolled in three schools with a capacity of 1,575. Also, the Jacobs School, the best and most expensive facility in Hull, is underutilized. The Jacobs capacity of 785 students educates approximately 400 Hull kids. Reconstruction of that school cost approximately 50 percent of the total School Building Committee budget spent on Hull’s three schools. Our kids deserve the best education in our best school.
As a courtesy, I sent the question below to School Committee members in advance of public meetings: Since the MARS Best Educational Uses of School Facilities report concluded: The decline in student enrollment, as measured by two different and independent sources with three reports, is approximately 30 percent since 2008; a 30.3 percent decrease for the past 10 years; and then, for the next 10 years, it projects a 21.8 percent drop in the number of students. Projections for the next decade indicate an enrollment decline that does not justify operating three facilities. Where do you see the School Department in five years in regard to budget and consolidation? (A five-year look ahead for Hull is a question for all town officials as well.)
I attended a School Committee meeting to ask my question, and the chair told me it was not on the agenda. Fortunately, the superintendent informed the chair that she discussed the MARS report with the town manager and plans for a joint meeting with selectmen. I attended the joint meeting of the Advisory Board and School Committee budget hearing to ask my question, and the chair told me that it was not on the agenda but that I should attend the joint meeting scheduled April 7 with the School Committee, selectmen, and MARS.
On April 7, it appeared that the School Committee got reassurances that they would not be questioned by the public in advance of the joint meeting with the selectmen for the MARS report presentation. Agenda items are open to public questioning and comments. I still wanted to comment on the MARS report. I rudely interrupted after the meeting to comment anyway. My apologies.
Now the School Committee wants to hear from parents and “stakeholders” at its April 26 meeting. Please listen to taxpayers and students and the MARS consultants hired to give independent, professional justification for K-7 at Jacobs, 8-12 at the high school. Town officials should also respect the recommendations from the superintendent and the professional consultants and take the next steps.
The School Committee serves 10 percent of the population with 60 percent of the budget. The town manager serves 90 percent of the population with 40 percent of the budget.
I suggest a poll of students about the Memorial School. I expect many fifth- and sixth-graders would choose to stay at the Jacobs School, and many eighth-graders would choose to go to the high school. I went to school at the Memorial; I know from experience; the Jacobs is awesome. The Jacobs is the best school on the South Shore. The MARS report justifies my opinion and my experiences.