Town of Granville informational hearing for residents

Granville Village School info meeting
Granville residents gather at the Granville Village School for an informational meeting about the school district’s school feasibility study. (Photo by Greg Fitzpatrick/The Westfield News)

GRANVILLE, Mass. (The Westfield News) – An informational meeting was held in the cafeteria of the Granville Village School on Tuesday night regarding the future of the school. The Granville Parents Association and the Granville Select Board helped organize the meeting.

The meeting was a question and answer format and gave those in attendance an opportunity to ask questions and voice their opinion on the possibility of the Granville Village School closing.

A main concern from the crowd was the fact that they believe they were promised capital improvements to the Granville Village School when the school district regionalized in 2012.

With the school having a roof that may have its issues, Granville residents believed the district was going to get that fixed as part of the regionalization.

The Granville representative for the Southwick-Tolland-Granville school committee, Pam Petschke, cleared up the concern from the residents.

“Unfortunately, nothing was in writing,” said Petschke. “They did get some work done.”

According to Petschke, that work included some of the windows in the school, security measures like an alarm system, and other cosmetic issues.

Since the town of Granville does own the property of the school building, another key question from the crowd was what will happen if the school is closed?

Select Board Chairman David Ripley assured that the town would have to come to a crossroad.

“Decisions need to be made regarding the building, that’s on us,” said Ripley.

The future for the current teachers of the Granville Village School was also a topic for discussion. If the school closes, the residents wondered what happens to the teachers and their salary.

Members of the Granville community also expressed the fact that if the school does close, does the district save money, and where does that money go?

Again, Petschke ensured the residents that the school district wouldn’t be saving any money, as it would go right back into the schools towards education.

“It’s not a matter of savings, it’s a matter of where that money would be spent,” said Petschke.

With the expected vote on the school’s future set for February 7, Petschke and the Select Board explained to the Granville community how the vote would work.

With seven members of the school committee, there are five from Southwick, and one apiece from Granville and Tolland.

Due to Southwick being a larger community in population, and with more students, they get more votes. As Petschke reminded the crowd, their needs to be a two-thirds majority to close the school or keep it open. Either Tolland representative Ted Locke, or any of the other Southwick representatives, would have to vote in favor of keeping the school open, besides Petschke, in order to do so.

All of the school committee member’s email addresses are on the school district website and open for the public.

Matt Brown, a resident of Granville, discussed how he has recently talked to several Southwick residents and has tried to inform them of what he thinks the effects could be.

If the school does indeed close, and all of the Granville students have to attend school in Southwick, Brown believes Southwick residents would be impacted.

“Do the Southwick residents understand that their taxes are going to go up?” said Brown.

Frank Wolak, who lives right behind the Granville Village School, and had children attend the school, voiced what he believes to be the most important factor to persuading the seven school committee members that the right thing to do, is to keep the school open.

“We’ve got to make the school committee and the rest of Southwick think that the school is valuable to them,” said Wolak.

Granville Select Board members
Granville Select Board members David Ripley, Richard Woodger, and Ted Sussman listen to questions that the residents have. (Photo by Greg Fitzpatrick/The Westfield News)

Petschke echoed that statement by speaking about all of the special features that the school has to offer.

“What makes this school valuable is not the quantity, it’s the quality,” said Petschke.

Although Granville residents continued to ask questions and bring up suggestions as to what the town should do moving forward, the Select Board noted that the next school committee meeting on January 10 may be the most important one yet.

Set to be held at the Southwick Regional School auditorium at 6 p.m., Superintendent Jen Willard will be showing those in attendance what the district will look like, educationally, with both options.

In light of the upcoming meeting, the Select Board strongly encouraged that as many Granville residents as possible, show up to these crucial events.

“You need to show up at these next few school committee meetings,” said Ripley.

Although the residents can’t ultimately control what the school committee’s decision is, Ripley believes in the power of numbers that can represent Granville at the meetings.

“If there are enough people there, it makes people think,” said Ripley.

Granville resident Danielle Sullivan also acknowledged the large crowd on hand, to “use the public comments” that are provided at the school committee meetings.

The school feasibility study completed by NESDEC (New England School Development Council) can be found on the school district web site.

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