GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

January 17, 2013

Letter:


Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor,

The letter written by our School Committee chairman (”Surplus of Fuller makes educational, financial sense,” the Times, Friday, Jan. 11) defending the decision to declare Fuller school surplus was so strange that I had to digest and reread and check it for a while to know what to make of it.

What a contorted argument it is. It is West Parish, not Beeman, that the School Committee wants to tear down. It makes no sense to use Beeman in his trade-off analysis.

Is the goal of this to confuse us all? As far as I know, no one has seriously suggested closing Beeman. I am not sure how to respond to something so foreign to previous discussion.

Mr. Pope and his committee seem to be committed to building a new, too small, West Parish after disposing of Fuller. But there are other problems. Mr. Pope pointed out that Fuller had 484 students in 2006-7, plus five kindergarten classes and some special needs classes.

What he did not say was that, in total, Fuller had 653 students in 2004, 632 in 2005, 580 in 2006 and 555 in 2007. That is easily found on http://www.schooldigger.com/go/MA/schools/0528002574/school.aspx. Why did he not tell us how many students, total, were in the school?

By the way, a check on the state web site shows that West Parish had 374 and Veterans 220 students in 2011-12 for a total of 594. We citizens depend on our elected and appointed officials to give us information upon which we can judge if our tax money is being spent wisely.

We are not experts on education (although one of my tasks as a young professor at MIT was to establish an undergraduate curriculum in Ocean Engineering), but Mr. Pope is an expert with long experience on the School Committee.

The financial comments were also strange. The tradeoff here is really: replace West Parish or renovate Fuller. At present Fuller does not have modern insulation and windows and heating and cooling systems. Of course, it is presently inefficient. It would not be reopened in any such condition.

If we are to support a major decision such as getting rid of our formerly finest school and investing in a brand new one of insufficient size, we need unbiased information and informed discussion, not questionable lectures in confused documents.

Dear School committee: How about talking to the taxpayers before making your minds up and putting yourselves in the position of defending the indefensible?

AMON E. CUMMINGS, Ph.D.

Washington Street, Gloucester