To the editor:
(Re.“Falling enrollment puts Brandon school in limbo,” Jan. 7, 2021), I am reaching out today to voice my concerns as a citizen of the Village of Brandon, mother of three children who attend Rosendale-Brandon School District and proud Laconia alumni.
An article recently appeared in the Ripon Commonweath Press informing the public of a proposed plan to close the Brandon Middle School and ship all Brandon Middle School students to Rosendale Intermediate School beginning the 2020-21 school year. I am very grateful for the efforts of the Ripon Commonweath Press to pursue and publish this story because I am concerned about the lack of public knowledge of this plan which up until days ago, was set to be decided on at next week’s school board meeting scheduled for January 18.
A vote on this plan is now delayed until the February meeting with public comment being allowed on January 18 instead of the previously scheduled vote.
The proposed plan to close Brandon Middle School was first introduced to the public as a single-line item on the second page of the School Board agenda for December 21, 2020, just days prior to the holiday break.
No formal notification was sent to parents of the district, or to the community at large. RBSD has contact information and the ability to communicate with families by old-fashioned paper handouts, weekly emails from the school and a robocall system that is used to contact parents in the event of important communications such as school closures or delays. The district met the bare minimum legal requirement to post the item on the meeting agenda, but took no action beyond what was required by law.
Most families in the days leading up to Christmas were trying to figure out how to adapt our holiday traditions to life in the time of COVID, and were not concerning themselves with the reading of a school district meeting minutes.
Fortunately, this meeting was attended by some very dedicated members of the community who then began spreading the word throughout the community that a decision on our school closure was just weeks away. To this date the only communication from the district regarding this proposal have been made on the district Facebook page which may not be accessible to all parents.
This led to a series of events which reminded me again why I am so proud to call this community my home. The village has rallied around this issue and we vow to work diligently to inform the board members and the district at large that our school is worth saving.
People don’t choose Rosendale-Brandon School District because they are seeking out the largest, shiniest new facility. They are seeking a sense of community for their children that can only be found in a small rural school like our own. They are seeking a school that is walking distance or a short ride from their home. They are seeking school where when you come back to visit as a senior in high school, all of your former teachers remember your name. They are seeking a school that is loved and supported by the community around it and the families are invested in the success of each child that walks through its doors.
Citizens of Brandon have organized both online and paper petitions that are expressing strong opposition to this plan and our commitment to block future referendums if our community is made to unilaterally bear the burdens of budgetary savings.
Thank you for your efforts to inform the public, and I hope you continue to follow this story as it develops.
— Desiree Frank