To the Editor:
The continuing decline in student enrollment in Simsbury Public Schools seems to be the best kept secret in town. A study for the school board shows that enrollment will decline more than 25% in the next 10 years to a value not seen since the 1980’s.
This year only 264 students are in first grade while 404 are high school seniors (a record 50 high school freshment went to Westminster!). When those first graders get to high school the class will be only 65% of this years. With restrictive development policies and a bias for childless families in housing, this will not change quickly.
So what does this mean to the average citizen?
First school budgets should be going down not up as enrollment declines, anything else from the School Board is unacceptable. Second, as more parents opt for private schools the decline will get worse.
We cannot take the traditional route of closing buildings and otherwise doing business as usual. Simsbury could be one of the first towns to offer all students scholarships they could use for private or charter schools and could lease unused school buildings to innovative education providers.
Also, we could reopen our town to kids. Yes it costs money to raise children but our town government seems to think they are little pests that just raise budgets. By letting non-traditional education providers into town we can handle more kids without excessive cost increases.
Let’s not let the town wither into a place of retirees and no kids. The two tombstones erected as our welcome into Simsbury on Rt 10 and Rt 189 don’t have to mean we are dying.
David S. Moelling