Chatham Selectmen Vote Against Proposal to Reconfigure District Elementary Schools

CHATHAM – Selectmen in Chatham voted unanimously recently to reject a proposal that would have begun the process of reconfiguring elementary schools in the Monomoy Regional School District.

The original agreement stated that Chatham and Harwich would be able to maintain their own elementary schools, but low birth rates and dwindling grade sizes in Chatham may force a change.

The school committee recently asked selectmen in both towns to support an update to the regional agreement and cut town meeting out of the process.

Selectman Jeffrey Dykens voted against the proposal but says the town needs to remain flexible.

“Yes we made a commitment and I, frankly, still think it’s a fine commitment to have our elementary students stay in our home town but I think we are fighting reality and fighting a demography that’s working against us,” Dykens said.

Currently at Chatham elementary school, there are 3 classes each in grades 1 through 4 but only two Kindergarten classes. Town data and birth rates show that future enrollment will continue to see just two sections per grade level.

“If we end up seeing divergent class sizes that’s when I think it is really incumbent on the school committee and our communities to figure out some way to address that so that we are providing an equal educational opportunity,” said Scott Carpenter, the superintendent of the regional school district.

On a split vote recently, selectmen in Harwich voted to the approve the change to the updated draft agreement.

“You have Harwich families who are sensitive to the fact that that building is kind of bursting at the seams and there is a want on some level to have maybe a little more intimacy than what they currently have,” Carpenter said.

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