Pursuing a bad idea


To the Editor:

I am not familiar with another instance when so many people, determined to pursue a bad idea, have been given — and ignored — so many opportunities to reconsider their actions. Four years ago, the town of Tisbury was presented with a proposal for a new K-8 school which the voters, wisely, rejected. Rather than re-evaluating their approach, the petitioners merely repackaged the same, apparently nonnegotiable wants.

And so, the second iteration of the proposal gave no attention to any re-evaluation of what the students of our town really require, as opposed to what the adults in the school community consider their due. Since, with the passage of time, no one should expect the price of a given brick to go down, of course the price was higher. With much moaning and gnashing of teeth as to the forfeiture of state funding assistance by denial of the first proposition, aspersions were cast. Nevertheless, a weary constituency caved to the cheerleading and the pressure and the desire for an end, and approved the adoption of this second plan.

Now, with these plans developed to the 60 percent level, we learn that the cost of this proposition is apt to be 20, or more, percent higher than the expenditure voted by town meeting. Another chance to pause and reflect.

The cost to the town of Tisbury, and in my opinion to the Island, of maintaining four independent middle schools is simply NOT sustainable. If the Island does not choose to seize this opportunity to reconsider an Island-wide change in our educational framework, I believe that well before the 30-year repayment of the borrowing to revamp the Tisbury School has elapsed, we will have been forced by economics to abandon the K-8 model now followed by Tisbury, Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, and West Tisbury. Tisbury will be left with a facility, not yet paid for, but superfluous.

Add to these considerations the need for a major overhaul or complete replacement of the Regional High School ($100 to $150 million, based on such projects on the Cape in recent years); the desire for several million dollars for upgrades to the high school athletic infrastructure; the announced retirement of 20 percent of school staff within five years (MV Times Letters to the Editor, March 9) and the anticipated millions of dollars in non-education-related infrastructure to deal with wastewater and sea level rise issues, among others.

This confluence, a perfect storm if you will, makes it mandatory that these education issues be dealt with together. To not look at all these issues with a view to a master pPlan for the entire Regional High School campus, to include a high school, a middle school, and appropriate athletic infrastructure, is at best a complete lack of vision, and at worst, a dereliction of duty by the school community and the taxpayers of Martha’s Vineyard.

Tony Peak