LETTER: Point-Counterpoint OR Roger Ailes Playbook by Peter Cunningham, Selectman
Borrowing a page from the Roger Ailes playbook, the Editor in last week's editorial apparently seeks to create a crisis of "uncertainty and declining trust" with no basis. While planting the seeds and nurturing a town/school district crisis may stimulate readership, it certainly is not productive when lacking even a cursory review of the facts.
The Editor states that the funding cushion that was represented to voters at the January Special Town Meeting is not as "comfortable" as predicted. This is simply not true as a review of the discussion on the fire station article will reveal. Townspeople were told there would be additional levy capacity in the neighborhood of $500,000 and that is where it still stands. The technology needs of the school district were communicated early on in the budgeting process and were planned for accordingly.
Since that time, the School Committee and administration have been working to define the specifics of that need and to implement a plan to address them. There has been excellent communication between the School Committee and member towns including several meeting between Selectmen and Finance Committee members which were reported on in the Herald.
Once again the Editor has apparently not followed this coverage or spoken with the reporter who has covered these meetings because he would have learned that both communities recognized and supported the technology needs, but needed to understand the specifics and then explore the various funding options. The Editor should reflect on the fact that the technology request will require the support of both communities and while Groton has sufficient levy capacity to meet the need in FY'14, the same may not be true of Dunstable. It may then make sense to finance the request over a period of three years with a 'state house note' which are short term loans by the state to municipalities at favorable rates, thereby reducing the yearly debt service required. This option was specifically discussed at the Feb. 28 meeting between town and school officials and may be prudent option to ensure the approval of the technology request in both communities.
The Editor should rest assured that communication between the town and school district is excellent and that the current superintendent who has served in four different school districts over the past 18 years, has recognized the working relationship with town administration as one of the most supportive and easiest that he has experienced.
In many ways this on-going series of letters between myself and the Editor that were referred to in the Feb. 8 editorial as an "...informal sharing of ideas and opinions, educate and stimulate debate, and give people an opportunity to test and confirm a variety of ideas and views" have become more like the old Saturday Night Live "point-counterpoint' skit between Dan Ackroyd and Jane Curtin.
Clearly there remains a strong disagreement over the fire station funding plan that will not be reconciled through point-counterpoint posturing by either of us. What townspeople will hopefully focus on is the fact that we have one of the highest performing school districts in the state, an efficiently run town government and a relationship between the two that is complimentary and productive.