Southwick school committee votes on regional agreement

The school committee voted in favor of waiving the regional agreement. (Photo by Greg Fitzpatrick/The Westfield News)

SOUTHWICK, Mass. (The Westfield News) – The school committee held their meeting in the auditorium of the Southwick Regional High School on Thursday night. The meeting was held last night due to the previous re-scheduled meeting on Tuesday that was cancelled due to the snow storm.

Under the category in the agenda called, Action Items, the school committee made a motion to take a vote on whether or not to waive the regional agreement from the decision of closing Granville Village School or not. Being a majority vote, the school committee voted six to one in favor of waiving the regional agreement.

Superintendent Jen Willard noted that if the school committee did decide to close the Granville Village School, they would be able to close the school at the end of the school year, instead of in the middle of the school year, which isn’t what Willard would like to see happen.

“It just wouldn’t be what’s in the best interest of our children,” said Willard.

The actual outcome for the Granville Village School hasn’t been decided yet, as the vote will occur at the next school committee meeting on Tuesday Feb. 7 also in the auditorium of the Southwick Regional High School.

With just days until the important vote on the Granville Village School, several residents of both Granville and Southwick were in attendance at the meeting to voice their thoughts on the discussion.

David Ripley, a Select Board member for Granville, spoke about what was promised to Granville in the regional agreement.

“We still haven’t received any of the repairs we asked for,” said Ripley.

Danielle Sullivan, a parent who has children in the Granville Village School, talked about how she believed the feasibility study process was rushed.

“I believe that we (Granville) deserve the right to get an extra year (of going without a vote),” said Sullivan.

After the vote occurred for waiving the regional agreement, Pam Petschke, the Granville representative of the school committee, voiced her feelings on why she voted no.

“The appropriate practice would be to correct the necessary language of the agreement,” said Petschke.

Sullivan also chimed in on the vote that was made at the meeting.

“I don’t know how we can vote on something when we don’t even know what’s going on with our school yet,” said Sullivan.

Petschke then spoke at length about an important factor that may or may not help lead to a decision on the Granville Village School.

“I don’t see equity as a necessity,” said Pestchke. She also said that she doesn’t believe that each of the four schools in the district have to be the same.

As an educator, Petschke believes that class sizes shouldn’t all be near the same number, and it depends on the student.

“Students aren’t the same, nobody learns the same way,” said Petschke.

According to Willard’s study, that she presented at a past school committee meeting, her optimal class size for the district, would be anywhere from 18 to 24 students.

As Petschke did say Willard’s optimal class size was acceptable, she wasn’t sure if it was completely optimal.

“I think class sizes need to be considered,” Petschke. “We need to make sure that we are planning appropriately for optimal class sizes.”

Willard points to her Best Use Facilities study, which shows the current enrollments for all four of the schools as of Jan. 20.

Both the Woodland and Powder Mill Schools have bigger class sizes for grades Kindergarten through sixth grade, than the Granville Village School does.

However, Willard points out that the kindergarten through sixth grade numbers for Woodland and Powder Mill are all lower than 24 students and there could potentially be room for more students if that occurred.

“There’s no overcrowding, these are all ideal class sizes that we have right now,” said Willard. “I want to make it very clear that they’re not going into already currently over-crowded classes.”

For more information on Willard’s Best Use of Facilities study or any other documents involving the Granville Village School, visit the school district website.