Monday night the Monomoy Regional School District declared war on the taxpayers of Harwich, as its superintendent and parents howled about the selectmen’s vote to cut $688,200 from the school’s FY2016 budget.
Superintendent Carpenter showed his hubris in full measure when he publicly threatened to send his own son to Nauset next year if a lacrosse program was not funded.
Is this what happens when Cape Cod towns hire out-of-towners to run their school districts? Over the past two years, Monomoy has eliminated every local administrator in favor of off-Cape replacements hired by Mr. Carpenter. The result is a school district that has lost touch with the culture of what was good in the former Chatham and Harwich districts.
Competition is more than lacrosse
Mr. Carpenter has made lacrosse the great red herring of the school competition game. He started last year by bragging to the school board that he promised a lacrosse team to a school choice parent in order to recruit her son to Monomoy High School. A few months ago he was criticized by a parent for not implementing lacrosse. Monday he was before the Harwich selectmen implying that a de-funded lacrosse program would cause students, including his own son, to choice out to Nauset.
School competition is about more than lacrosse.
Sturgis, Nauset, D-Y
First and foremost, no local school district can compete with Sturgis Charter. If a student wins the lottery to attend Sturgis, that student is gone. Most students who win a “golden ticket” to one of the nation’s 100 best high schools will welcome the opportunity and leave Monomoy (or Nauset, or DY) in their dust. Celebrate that your school inculcated a love of learning in those students and get on with educating the rest of your students. Take comfort in the money the state sends Monomoy to offset students lost to charter schools.
Nauset Regional High School enrolls 959 students. Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School enrolls 981.
Monomoy Regional High has 625 students. It is unreasonable to expect taxpayers to duplicate Nauset and DY’s programs at a school with 35% fewer students. It is simply too expensive to fund the programs of a 950 student school in a 625 student school.
Dissatisfied Monomoy parents may find that Nauset’s school choice seats are already full. If that’s the case, we submit that Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School is a more than viable school choice option. DY has the programs some in Monomoy seem to crave and is a large high school with diverse programs. DY also graduates students with MCAS scores very similar to those achieved by Monomoy students as reported last September (See the first link below to "The Cape’s two most vulnerable school systems").
We’re sure that DY Superintendent Carol Woodbury would be delighted to speak with any Monomoy parent wishing to choice their child to her high school.
A Lesson from Chatham
If Monomoy’s leadership still included any of Chatham’s administrators, they would already know how Chatham High School survived for over twenty years on school choice revenue.
Chatham High knew its strengths. It offered a good, basic education in an intimate, private school environment. Class sizes were small, students received lavish individual attention and the school was a magnet for kids who do not thrive in a big-school environment. Many struggling students choiced over to Chatham and thrived in the environment created by that district.
Chatham never pretended to be a world-class high school. Chatham never pretended to be an athletic powerhouse. Instead, they made great effort in the success of individual students.
At the Lacrosse roads
Chatham and Harwich taxpayers find themselves at a “lacrosse roads”. Do they impoverish themselves to fund an ambitious school program or do they fund the basic educational programs the two towns have always supported?
How will the public respond to a school board that declares war on taxpayers? Will voters allow the school district to monopolize Harwich’s municipal budget or will they hold fast? Will there be a recall petition against the school committee?
Truth be told, life in Harwich and Chatham will go on without a hiccup if Mr. Carpenter sends his son to play lacrosse at Nauset next year.