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EDITORIAL: First Things First

As a town - and as a people - we must prioritize young people's education. Some municipal costs and responsibilities can be delayed without causing harm. The same cannot be said of our young people’s education.
     As reported in last week’s edition of the Groton Herald, some students may not to able attend in-person schooling because there is not enough room in school buildings due to the need for social distancing. It turns out that many more parents chose the hybrid educational option requiring some in-school education rather than the all-remote option.
We must find a way for all young people who want in person education to have it. Although a difficult problem, we believe there is a solution "hiding in plain sight."  We only need to recognize it.
     That solution is the open space at the Prescott School building. It would likely not be possible to certify the space for classroom use at such short notice, even with the fire-suppression system soon to be active. However, the school administration could move their offices back to Prescott for the duration of the pandemic, thus freeing up several classrooms for teaching. Our understanding is that as many as six or seven classrooms would be available if the school administration vacated their offices in the Middle School.
     Moving these administration offices to the middle school a couple years ago was a sensible money-saving move because there was unused space at the Middle School due to declining enrollments. But now that we need those classrooms to educate our young people, temporarily moving back to Prescott, although inconvenient, should be carefully evaluated.
     This crisis highlights the immense value of keeping the Prescott School building in town hands. Who could have anticipated needing the space at Prescott for secondary school education once again?
     Besides the straight-forward virtues of keeping the Prescott School building in town hands to foster growth of community and business, we believe the building will prove invaluable for solving problems the town could not anticipate. The challenges of the pandemic of 2020 show that keeping the Prescott School building in town hands gives us invaluable flexibility for addressing unanticipated problems with local control and local solutions.
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