Ayer’s application to join the Nashoba Valley Technical School District was not the focus of the annual presentation Superintendent Judith Klimkiewicz made to selectmen Monday night, but it was part of it.
Even though selectmen didn’t vote on whether they support the application, they didn’t raise any concerns about it either.
So far, the only community out of seven– Chelmsford, Groton, Littleton, Pepperell, Shirley, Townsend and Westford — whose officials have indicated they don’t support it is Chelmsford, said Nashoba Tech School Committee Chairman Jennifer Rhodes. She didn’t know what the problem was, though.
“We’ve seen support in all the other towns,” she said.
“Does Chelmsford still feel that way?” Selectman Kendra Dumont asked.
Klimkiewicz said she didn’t know. But in her view, it’s “fiscally irresponsible” for any of the towns to say no. Majority Town Meeting votes in two-thirds of member communities will pass the measure.
“We still hope it’s unanimous,” she said. “It sends the right message.”
Selectmen’s only rub with Nashoba Tech came later, but from another corner.
During a joint budget session with the Finance Committee, Selectman Andy Deveau said the overall picture of what the town is paying for education includes the number of children attending Nashoba Tech annually, versus the recently-formed Ayer-Shirley Regional School District, as well as those who opt out under the state School Choice program.
In his view, it costs the town either way and in some ways it’s a double-dip. But nobody argued that Nashoba Tech could be faulted, or that the 47-year-old district the town has belonged to since 1977 doesn’t do a top job educating students or managing its finances.
For example, prestigious studies by the Pioneer Institute and Harvard University and an array of statistics Klimkiewicz cited show how successful it is.
For example, a zero percent dropout rate for several years, more-than-satisfactory performance on MCAS exams and student performance in every educational area, from career to college.
She also noted a strong community-service component, including a recently-completed project in Shirley and a couple more on the drawing board.
Finance Committee Chairman Frank Kolarik said he was particularly impressed with the district’s ability to set aside significant cash reserves and use them prudently.
“You guys do an awesome job,” Deveau said. “Congratulations for another successful year.”
Chairman David Swain agreed.
“You’ve produced minimum net spending repeatedly, provided excellent education and give back to the community, too,” he said.
Also seen in Lowell Sun Online and Nashoba Publishing.