Curtis and Alan pose with Burnie, the Burnham School mascot who is out of the dog house! He is pictured here at the Bistro Bridgewater where we celebrated this week with Region 12 parents and discussed the importance of a hometown school. There is a lot to celebrate as we feel we have turned the corner in saving the Burnham School.
For the past eleven years, nine of which serving as the Vice Chairman of the Region 12 Board of Education, Alan Brown has been fighting for Bridgewater’s students. Both Curtis Read and Alan Brown have worked as a team with even greater strength and resources over the past four years to keep Burnham as the heart of our town and one of Connecticut’s “Schools of Distinction”.
Studies have shown that a small town’s elementary school is crucial both to its children’s educational and social development and also to the health of the town’s community and economy. When attempts were made to consolidate Region 12’s elementary schools and close Burnham in 2014, Curtis and Alan cooperated with Save our Schools and the Burnham PTO to make sure it survived. In the April, 2014 referendum Bridgewater overwhelmingly voted 91% to 9% against consolidation. Consequently, Bridgewater did not become the first town in Connecticut without its own elementary school.
However, the pressure on Burnham started again. The regional population trends were impacting Bridgewater, and in turn, affecting the school population. Curtis and Alan knew four years ago and campaigned on the idea that Bridgewater needed to attract young families. Once in office, plans were set in motion knowing that success would take time. However, Burnham’s population declined faster than projected. Curtis, as the First Selectman together with Alan, as both a Selectman and on the Board of Education, developed additional plans to prevent Burnham’s student count from dropping to an unsustainable level.
Their advocacy and initiatives to make Burnham affordable for families from other towns were persistent and innovative. As a result, Burnham School now has a low tuition-in rate for students from neighboring communities. It also has both a thriving before and after school care and enrichment program called ACE. This is a draw particularly for those parents who can’t be home for their children until their work day is over.
Bridgewater students now attend an elementary school with a growing population and a new multi-age classroom model. It has always competed successfully with nearby towns and regions in academics. Now, it also competes with public, private and parochial schools in the realms of family services and affordability. Curtis and Alan have led the way in making Burnham’s future secure.