The views stated here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the staff of this newspaper.
It was February, 2018. Rumors had been spreading that the BOE was going to do some restructuring. A few scenarios had been circulating and a couple of meetings had been sparsely attended by parents. And then IT was announced. Haddam Elementary School was going to be closed. The board had voted. Caught by surprise, many parents and townfolks were shocked. The vote was10 to 1 in favor of closing our beloved school with Brenda Buzzi being the only Haddam BOE member to vote no.
Social media blew up. They were going to close the school that anchored the village of Higganum, the heart and soul of the community. HES helped the businesses survive in our little village. What could we do? They had voted. Our school was finished. But then little ripples began to surface. Why? Why our school? We got numerous answers. “Well, it’s older than Burr. It doesn’t seem as clean. The teachers don’t seem as happy.” And finally, “It’s going to save the town one million dollars. Your taxes will go down. And our population studies show a decrease in children.”
Parents started attending BOE meetings, begging for someone to listen to them. This small group got up at each meeting, trying to get answers. They were given 5 minutes each for a total of 20 minutes. They poured their hearts out asking for figures, monetarily, population, anything, but the BOE members were instructed not to respond. Some sat with their heads down, not even looking these desperate parents in the eye. They were thanked, told to sit down, and the meeting began. Time after time after time.
Then it was November. And they began to get angry. Angry that no one would share their studies. Angry as the 1 million in savings went down to $700,000, then to no savings whatsoever to the Haddam taxpayers as the monies would be used elsewhere. And the small group got larger now encompassing business owners, politicians, educators, past parents, past students. This group of 10 to 15 parents rose in a fury to 800 strong. Petitions were started, money raised. Demographers, lawyers, state representatives were consulted.
Then came the signs! Save HES, Save Our Center! 100 of them were spread along 154 and throughout town. They received pleas from numerous residents. “We want a sign. How do we get one?” 100 more were ordered. There was going to be a BOE meeting with the town leaders. Maybe they would let the parents show the results of their studies. The proof that the BOE population studies done by Wesleyan undergrads was way off. That in reality, the population was beginning to grow and would continue to grow. They could bring in their rep from Pratt to show a huge growth in hires from out of state, potential Haddam homebuyers. Maybe they could actually save their school.
Then the signs disappeared the day after four “Save HES”members finally had a meeting with the BOE chairwoman. Every last sign on 154 was gone. Again social media exploded. It seemed that a zoning enforcement officer decided the signs were a violation but not only did he remove them from town property but from private property also. The first selectwoman ordered that our signs be returned. But the floodgates had already been opened. The phone calls doubled with everyone asking for a sign. Haddam wanted to Save our school.
The story ends here or does it? Please come to the next BOE meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018 at HKMS and save our school and save our center!
A concerned citizen
Save our School member
Past HES parent