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Westport 1/9/10

The following is an edited version of an email (it was signed, by the way) that I received the other day about my last column, which celebrated WCS's national recognition for excellence:

Colin, regarding your piece in today's Valley News, I think that it's great that our school got the recognition of excellence but, with a $5 million budget to spread over some 250 students, it shouldn't surprise anybody. Also, how many students are kept back to achieve the 100% graduation rate?...I'm not against the school, I'm all in favor of quality education but the school board and administration seemingly have no fiscal conscience and simply spend too much money. They also don't seem to be aware that our school is on the chopping block if or when the time comes for school consolidations. Take care, and Happy New Year.

I'm interested by the idea that $5 million is too much money to spend each year on a school that has 250 students. That's 20 grand a year per student. Comparable to a good private school, I would guess. Another guess would be that there are pros and cons to spending this kind of money.

And I'd be very surprised if any students at all are kept back to achieve the 100 percent graduation rate. That's something I have a hard time envisioning.

Then there's the issue of school consolidation. My impression is that if we lose the school, it will be terrible for the town, and that the experience of other towns bears this out. But I don't really know enough to assess all these claims, which (along with others) were made during our recent school budget cycle.

So here's what I say: I'd like to hear from readers who know more than me about the pros and cons of these issues. I'm ignorant, in other words. Educate me. Send me your comments, and I'll do my best to reflect them fairly here, even if I can't promise to quote them all.

You've marveled at his floating rocks and free-sailing wind turbines on Sayre Road, and maybe caught the show of his work at the museum in E'town last summer. Now come see Ted Cornell talk about his art and how he makes it at the Wadhams Free Library. Titled "A Hole in the Head," it's a lecture that Ted will illustrate with his own paintings, providing a window into his internal art universe. (I suspect it's one of those universes with different laws of nature.) Not to be missed. Wednesday, Jan. 13, at 7:30 p.m.

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