Tele-Talk Responses: “Do you agree with the Conway School Board’s recent decision concerning unused space at Kennett Middle School?”

“Do you agree with the Conway School Board’s recent decision concerning unused space at Kennett Middle School?” This was last week’s Tele-Talk question, which 15 people decided to answer. A large majority of responders, 12, were open to renting the space to Robert Frost Charter School. Reasons for this include profit, healthy competition and “what else will it be used for, why not?” Three people said the school board was right in its decision not to lease the space to the charter school.

I wish they would pick something to do with it. It’s been a decade since the high school was moved. They don’t want to move the sixth-graders, they don’t want the recreation department there, they don’t want the charter school — when are they going to do something with it? Another decade? Move the sixth-graders to the middle school. Have one elementary school be K-2, the other 3-5. Use the closed school as the new rec department. (This) solves several problems at once. This also has the added bonus that if you move, your child won’t have to go to a different elementary school just because you’ve moved a few streets over. All the kids in Conway will attend the same school together. Jessica Thompson.

This school board does not care about the taxpayers or the students. It’s very evident from their history. Charter schools should be welcome, as they offer a good education for students, one that some parents are willing to pay extra for. This middle school could provide space for a charter school and some income for the school district instead of a waste. There is no down side; just the school system afraid of competition. These students do not belong to the school board; they belong to the parents, who are the taxpayers. Do not use students for your self-interests. Stop being so uptight, self-centered, and start thinking of the parents and students. If the board doesn’t start working in the best interest of the people, they should be replaced. The sooner the better. It’s been going on too long. Bob Johnson.

Can someone explain the “keep a healthy distance” issue? New Hampshire has been creative with schools in the past. It’s mostly a matter of keeping the financials separate, no? Not rocket science. Do we not already keep some kids in separate curriculums with special education programs? Common sense says leasing available school space to a school means it’s built to suit, so why would we deny a school having an appropriate place for the kids as opposed to that ridiculous place they’re at now? Being near one another has benefits, to bussing, law enforcement, etc. Dresden-Hanover is a cross-state-lines public school system. And that’s a much more complicated problem. Common sense for all, especially for kids and schools. Lauren Darcey.

I do agree with passing on the charter school lease. I believe the most consideration should be given to relocating the sixth-graders and using one of the elementary schools for a recreation department. Otherwise we are going to be building a new rec center and paying the $66,000 a year for “dead” space. Tiffany S. Roberts.

Yes, I agree because Robert Frost has been in financial trouble for quite some time. They cannot afford a nurse, nor qualified teachers for music, Spanish, guidance counselor and physical education, which are requirements. They have no special needs services and no basic academic services, like math and reading. In fact, they don’t encourage reading. To rent space to them from our Kennett Middle School would be a great distraction for our children. To allow Robert Frost to manipulate and deceive us with their own personal financial gain would be a tragic outcome. It is not our duty to finance our competitor.

They should rent it out. If they aren’t going to help the taxpayers, then they shouldn’t be on the board. Robin Young.

Cut off your nose to spite your face. Jacci Gilmore.

I have it from a reliable source, that the Frost Charter School administration, given their previous dealings with the Conway School Board, anticipated this outcome. From my personal perspective, the rationales advanced by three members of the board were at best specious. School buildings should be dedicated for use as educational facilities only. Kennett Middle School has 11 empty classrooms that could be used, with some modifications, to build a three-grade middle school at Kennett Middle School — which the Conway School Board board has acknowledged makes “educational sense.” The recent review of the Kennett Middle School open space for use as a replacement for the Conway Recreation Center would, as articulated by a Conway selectman, mean that the town would be paying again for space paid off years ago. Does this make good fiscal or educational sense? “Healthy separation” between a charter school and a local government-controlled school could be seen as “code” to preclude outside personnel from easily comparing the educational success of two different approaches to the same end — graduating students who have what it takes to be successful in an increasingly competitive outside world. Historically, religious schools and many charter schools have often outperformed their government-controlled counterparts — why?  One argument advanced by the educational community is that these competitors “cherry-pick” their students. Does this argument hold water? James R. LeFebvre, Intervale.

So, according to Mark Hounsell, the Conway School Board does not want competition from the Robert Frost Charter School. To do this they are willing to have Conway and the sending towns pay $64,666 a year to continue to maintain unused space at the Kennett Middle School rather than leasing this space to the Robert Frost Charter School. Same thing happened two years ago. The Conway School Board’s excuse then was that they wanted to wait until the Conway School District’s strategic plan was completed. Well, this strategic plan, which reads like a high school yearbook, had no use for that space. These refusals are nothing less than a blatant and criminal attempt by the Conway School District to use public taxpayer funds to discourage competition from a superior public school system — charter schools. Wait, there’s more! The reason the Conway School District will not consolidate and close one of the half-empty grammar schools is because they will then have to renegotiate the sending town contracts. These 20-year contracts (10 years left) mandate that all K-8 students and 90 percent of 9-12 students attend the Conway public schools. Again, a direct prevention of school choice competition using public funding. Is there a lawyer in the house?     

Why would I agree with it? The Conway School Board doesn’t give two sweet damns about the sending towns; they never have, never will. The only thing they feel right about is taking our tax dollars. So they sure as hell aren’t going to try to help out the Robert Frost school. Enough said.

Robert Frost has made its students clean and pack for the move, not providing the required 180 days of school academics. Safety for the children was not an option at Robert Frost, making the children play out front of the building just inches from busy Route 16, starting back last April. They were not concerned enough to have the children stay inside during construction. The school has not afforded a cleaning service for the last two years since the last one left abruptly, leaving staff and students to clean. Robert Frost should not be allowed space at Kennett Middle School as it will be a huge disruption to the education of our middle school.

Kennet Middle School should not rent space to Robert Frost Charter School. Having had a child in the school, I can tell you the parents are lied to and staff are bullied by micromanagement. There are fewer than 40 students enrolled for grades K-8, and most likely half will not return. Most students are below reading writing level and also fall behind in math. The charter school has failed its students. Children are the victims here. Being on public school premises gives Robert Frost opportunity to steal students. Robert Frost cannot afford the space, and you won’t be able to get rid of them, (and you’ll) have to finance them, wasting taxpayers’ money.

No, I do not agree with the recent decision the Conway School Board made concerning the unused space at Kennett Middle School for the charter school. I do not agree that the state commissioner interfered with this process. However, if Mark Hounsell is afraid of competition, that’s what good education is all about, competition. And the school board of Conway should realize that the charter school gets state funds, also. So, I’m very concerned about them not using that space. However, maybe they could take that space and make a ski academy out of it and that might get some more revenue for the town. Thank you very much.

I do not agree with the school board’s decision. It’s been mothballed for several years, costing taxpayers $66,000 plus each year, and I think it was very mean-spirited not to help out the charter school when they asked. Thank you.

No, I do not agree with the school board and their recent decision. To me, we’re wasting $67,000 (I’ll call it that, 67) instead of bringing in $100,000 from somebody that is willing to pay. So, does that mean that we’re wasting and blowing almost $167,000? I didn’t realize we were that rich of a community. Obviously we are.

Money, money, money.  Is that all you care about?