A 'Right Size' Nauset High Needed
The Nauset Regional School Committee (NRSC) continues to mislead voters on the factors that are driving up the cost of the proposed high school reconstruction.
The NRSC told the Brewster Finance Committee that the 290 School Choice pupils at Nauset in FY 2020 did not cost Nauset taxpayers anything. This is false and insults our intelligence. Nauset received less than $6,000 per pupil from the school districts that School Choice pupils to us in FY 2020, and it costs Nauset $20,700 per pupil to educate each pupil. Furthermore, a member of the Brewster Finance Committee has estimated that the Choice pupils and tuition pupils from Truro and Provincetown cost Nauset more than $4 million per year.
The NRSC also told the Brewster Finance Committee that their change in the date for the vote on the proposed $132 million reconstruction of the high school from town meeting week to March 30 “improves the democratic process.” This is also false. In 2011 Nauset voters voted on a bond for $6.4 million (minus state aid of $2.5 million) to install new roofs and windows in the high school. This bond approval process included two votes in each town: a town meeting where voters had the opportunity to ask questions and hear the recommendation of the finance committee and a two-thirds supermajority was required to pass; and a second vote by a secret ballot. Both of these votes had to pass in each town in order for the bond to be approved.
The NRSC has eliminated the town meeting process because they do not want to face the voters, who they know will be asking questions about the $4 million cost of the voluntary Choice program and the larger high school needed to accommodate Choice and tuition students.
The projected principal and interest costs of this bond issue would add $8,400 to the existing $20,700 per pupil cost, each year for 25 years. That equals a projected new total cost of $29,100 per pupil, each year for 25 years. We have to vote against this unfair proposal and “right size” a new plan for Nauset.
Appreciating Environmental Protection
We are fortunate here on the Lower Cape to have The Cape Cod Chronicle as a forum for ideas and comments about life in the area we inhabit. The latest issue is a prime example. There are so many valuable contributions in the editorials, columns and letters about issues we are facing in this difficult time. Apparently, many of us in confinement due to the pandemic have had time to think about and contribute to collective thought and reason. These include thoughtful consideration of the importance of saving the maritime history treasured by area residents and by tourists who support the local economy. We have a Community Preservation Act that should be tapped to support efforts like saving the Coast Guard boathouse. The importance of listening to and respecting others, even if we don’t agree, is cited as an important part of living in a democracy as is the willingness to view compromise as progress, not capitulation. The value of protecting our environment and the “beauty of the Cape Cod Lawn” are part of what sustains us. We appreciate that more as we spend more time in isolation from a “normal existence” and more in touch with the beauty of nature that surrounds us. Hopefully, we will use the time removed from our usual endeavors to reflect on what is truly important for our collective selves and for future generations. If so, some good will have come from the current tragedy.
Another Idea For CES
I suggest that if our elementary school is being underutilized. If we consider the positive impact of having children in our town, perhaps we might consider creating an early education and child care center. The Chatham Elementary School would welcome children from 3 to 5 years old to a comprehensive preschool program that is part of our regional school community and budget. It would be fully funded under the school budget and taught by certified early education teachers who would earn a living wage. The school would also include grades K-2 and have vibrant before- and after-school programs for children from ages 0 to 12. The before and after-school programs could be partially funded by the school budget and vouchers.
Many committees, task forces, and early education leaders on the Cape are trying to address the desperate need for high quality early education and care through a variety of programs that include vouchers for families who need child care. The voucher systems are loose band-aids for a vital need in Chatham and in our neighboring communities. Given the current realities, many small private preschools and daycare programs have closed. Parents can still choose private preschool and daycare centers, but the need is greater than the number of private centers. I have heard the concern about the impact a well-funded public universal preschool and care could have on private centers. However, that must not be the reason that communities step away from facing their responsibility to educate and care for all children who live there.
The pandemic has pointed out that the lack of high-quality early education and care is connected to the key issues of affordable housing and jobs. It has impacted women, single dads, the underemployed, and many seniors who are stepping in to care for grandchildren whose parents do not have affordable options for preschool and before- and after-school care.
Making the elementary school the senior center, creating a separate elementary school committee and creating grade-specific buildings for the region seem to have little to do with our responsibility to all our families and children. Monomoy can be a model for our Cape neighbors by coming together and creating opportunities for families and while educating and caring for all of our children.
Symptom Of Broken Health Care System
I was up in Cape Cod over Christmas and my 2-year-old son fell down the stairs. We were afraid (based on his reaction and pain) he broke his shin/leg. It was late so we waited the next day (to make sure we could monitor his pain and also until the urgent care center in Harwich was open). In the morning we went for a quick visit, literally talking to the doctor for five minutes, getting an X-ray and finding out it was not broken so we did not need any treatment. When I got the bill (mind you, I pay a lot for my Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance which I confirmed was accepted at the center), the bill was $408 after insurance deducted about $220. What I learned from this experience was that the non-transparency of the system (this center in particular which is not a hospital but bills as part of the hospital system – $178 hospital bill after insurance), that the physician charges would have been cheaper for me if I did not have insurance. I will not bring my child into urgent care in the future if I have an emergency because the bills are astronomical. I called twice to clarify (and confirm that the office/outpatient new low MDM 30-44 minute bill was correct. It's the minimum they charge for just walking into their office, even though we were seen for much less time than 30 minutes. I am upset as I have been to urgent care centers in my home state (Maryland) many times and have never been charged anywhere close to this fee. It's upsetting and showcases how bad our healthcare system is.
Bel Air, Md.
Help From Special People
As I age, and I am, the only thing I get better at is procrastination. Therefore a better late than never thank you to two people.
Because I don't have a computer, I am at the mercy of others. Dorothy Bassett in the Chatham Conservation Foundation office printed and mailed a map of the Goose Pond area. Thank you for a great walk.
Also, Shanna in the town manager's office took pity on me and printed the Chatham Christmas Light Driving Tour map that Wendy Upson made. I took my more senior friend on the tour and we loved it. Ending at the Chatham Beach Chair was perfect!
The Harwich Cultural Arts Center was so much fun and amazing!
Thank you to a special people and community.
Decide On Data, Not Emotion
When I see the letters to the editor regarding keeping the elementary school open in Chatham, lines from a Rolling Stones song come to mind. “You can't always get what you want/But if you try sometime/You just might find/You get what you need.”
Sound decisions, for any project, are based on data and not on emotions.
Plenty Of History Available
In the recent story “HBDC Denies Demo of Monomoy Theatre Buildings” (Nov. 26), Chatham Historical Commission Chairman Frank Messina said much of the town's history could be considered folklore because it relies on anecdotes and word of mouth. “Chatham doesn't have a good history in terms of records,” he said.
I wonder when the last time was when Mr. Messina looked into the reference room at our local public library? There is a large collection of reference material written about our history. Please take a look at one book in particular, “The History of Barnstable, Massachusetts.”
I feel statements such as these do not help us in trying to preserve our past from ambitious land owners that may be misdirected.
Letter Defies Fact And Logic
When I began reading young Mr. Fulcher’s letter (“Who Needs Double Standards?” Jan 28), I first thought it to be a parody. As I read further, I realized that I was wrong and that, sadly, he has likely been taken in, hook, line and sinker, by the conspiracy theories of right-wing extremists like QAnon, Proud Boys, Three Percenters, Oath Keepers and their ilk. It defies fact and logic to suggest that “liberal crusaders and MAGA-attired Antifa members” were responsible for or participated in storming the Capitol to prevent Congress’ certification of the election of President Biden.
Ironically, Mr. Fulcher complains about this newspaper’s defense of what he claims (wrongly from a legal standpoint) is the curtailment of First Amendment rights. Yet, his complaint was published by a newspaper he obviously perceives as part of the “liberally biased media” that limits First Amendment rights.
In our country, one has an absolute and indisputable right to be a Trump voter and/or supporter, as Mr. Fulcher clearly is. But as he and The Chronicle remind readers, it is “No Time to Remain Silent,” especially when any politician, including Mr. Trump, encourages, or does not publicly censure those who encourage, assassination of other politicians with whom they disagree. All citizens, regardless of political persuasion, must condemn such conduct.
Chatham, Venice, Fla.
An Alternative For Harwich Center
It is refreshing to see that Harwich is looking to improve the center of town. The suggestions described in The Chronicle on Jan. 21 (“Lane Changes Could Help Promote Business In Harwich Center”) seem cosmetic at best. To truly impact the dynamics of Harwich Center with an eye towards the future one needs to step back and see the forest from the trees.
I would propose taking advantage of the existing road network and designing counterclockwise one-way traffic around the center. Traffic would flow from Sisson Road to Parallel Street, Bank Street, Main Street and back to Sisson Rd. Incoming and exiting traffic would spin on and off the circle. This would not only improve traffic flow but produce ample space for wide walkways, bike routes, sidewalk seating and parking. The roadway could have gentle curves and/or speed bumps to slow vehicle traffic. This type of design is used successfully in many other towns and should be seriously considered in Harwich center.