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Please let Windham leave Leland and Gray district

Our town’s membership in no longer makes sense, academically or socially

Carolyn Partridge, Antje Ruppert, and Beth McDonald are members of the Windham School Board.

Windham

RE: “Windham released from full membership in WRED” [News, Jun. 19]:

We are writing to the voters of Brookline, Jamaica, Newfane, and Townshend to ask: please vote yes on Tuesday, July 16 to allow Windham to leave the Leland and Gray Union Middle/High School District.

Why are we asking to be released after 50 years of membership? We appreciate the opportunity to explain our reasons.

When Windham joined the district in 1969, several things were made clear. Quoting from the minutes taken in Windham that day: “That students in the northern portion of the Windham area can attend, at the option and with the permission of the Union District School Board, a school other than Leland and Gray without being counted as members of the Leland and Gray Union High School District for tuition purposes” and additionally, “That membership shall be on grades 7-12 basis.”

Things have worked well over the years, but several years ago a state law was passed requiring seventh and eighth graders to attend Leland and Gray even if they were choosing another high school for grades nine through 12, either under the 1969 agreement or through the public high school choice provision.

The ultimate effect is that someone from Windham choosing to go to Green Mountain Union High School in Chester is technically required to attend Leland and Gray for 7th and 8th grades.

In our view, this makes no sense, academically or socially.

* * *

In addition, the 1969 agreement was made for seventh and eighth grades, not sixth grade, which is now being required for members of the West River Modified Union Education District.

While the vote that was just taken allows our elementary school to remain autonomous, the fact that we are still part of the Leland and Gray Union for the purposes of grades seven through 12 complicates matters, especially regarding bookkeeping. If we are allowed to leave the WRMUED, that aspect will become less difficult.

As a point of information, we anticipate that most of our students will continue to choose Leland and Gray as their middle/high school, so the loss to the WRMUED will be minimal.

Also, Windham would make a one-time payment to the WRMUED to pay off our share of the Leland and Gray District debt.

* * *

To be clear, Windham is not allowed to vote on July 16, but on Town Meeting Day 2019, our voters supported, on a 65–2 majority (with one spoiled ballot), an article to leave the Leland and Gray District. We are representing that sentiment with this request to vote yes to let us do so.

The other four towns in the WRMUED — Brookline, Jamaica, Newfane, and Townshend — will vote to decide the question. Their votes will be tallied individually, and all four towns will have to vote yes to let us go, or the motion will fail.

For all these reasons, we ask that the voters of Brookline, Jamaica, Newfane, and Townshend vote yes.

We thank you for your consideration.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #518 (Wednesday, July 10, 2019). This story appeared on page D1.

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