Brewster Fin Comm Supports School Consolidation Article

Eddy Elementary School

BREWSTER – A citizen petition article in Brewster seeking the consolidation of the town’s elementary schools received support last week from the finance committee in a split vote.

The board voted 5-3-1 supporting the article which asks to turn one of the schools into an intergenerational community center.

Helga Dyer, a member of the Friends of Brewster Elders board of Directors, submitted the article and expressed her views before the committee.

Dyer said she is hopeful that the grassroots effort will encourage the discussion needed to improve town services to a level achieved by other communities on Cape Cod.

“It’s time we value both our students and our seniors,” Dyer said. “Any opportunities to mitigate the need to raise taxes without lowering our standards of education should be open for discussion, with facts laid out, for voters to take action.”

Dyer said supporters are not advocating for a reduction in elementary school opportunities.

“This is about asset utilization to increase services to all residents,” Dyer said.

Stony Brook Elementary School has a capacity of 700 students with current enrollment around 240. Eddy Elementary School’s current enrollment is around 245 with a capacity of 450.

Dyer said voters should also consider the growing aging population in the town and its increased needs.

Forty percent of the town’s population is 60 or older and that number is expected to increase to 55 percent by 2035.

The current Council on Aging building was originally built in 1881 as the Town Hall.

“[It is] unable to accommodate the accessibility needs of our elders,” Dyer said. “We owe our seniors better.”

Discussions for the consolidation of the elementary schools began more than a decade ago.

“Our intent with this petition is to get the process starting again with a sense of urgency it deserves,” Dyer said.

Finance Committee member Thomas Fitzgibbons said he is not sure the plan would save the town money due to the cost of retrofitting one of the buildings to a community center.

The article is expected to be nonbinding and to express the views of town meeting voters on the proposal.

No members of the Brewster School Committee attended the Finance Committee meeting.

Special Town Meeting in Brewster is November 18 at 6 p.m. at Stony Brook Elementary School.

About Brian Merchant

Brian Merchant grew up in Central Massachusetts and now lives in South Dennis on the Cape. He has been part of the news team in the NewsCenter since the spring of 2014. He studied radio broadcasting at the University of Tennessee.
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