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Meeting, vote on regionalization

The debate in Holbrook over whether to study school regionalization before building a new school continues this week, with a dedicated public meeting on Monday, followed by a related article at Town Meeting on Wednesday.

The article would appropriate $40,000 for a study of the pros and cons of combining with another school district.

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Supporters say the potential educational benefits of merging Holbrook’s small school system with another town’s should receive full consideration before the town commits to building a new school; opponents, meanwhile, say Holbrook has tried unsuccessfully to find a regionalization partner, and that delaying construction could hurt the town’s ability to get state construction funding.

The junior-senior high school building is widely considered among officials and parents to be in poor condition.

The regionalization issue has sparked tensions between the Board of Selectmen and School Committee since at least last summer, when the boards of selectmen in Holbrook and Avon voted to jointly pursue a regionalization study grant from the state. The Holbrook board had not met with the School Committee to discuss the matter, and officials from both communities complained that the decision contravened earlier votes by their respective Town Meetings.

On Monday, the Holbrook Board of Selectmen and School Committee will meet at 7 p.m. at Town Hall. The agenda includes a discussion of three construction options, the Town Meeting article, and “communication” between the School Committee and Board of Selectmen.

Barbara Davis, chairwoman of the School Committee, said last week that she did not yet have an opinion on the article, but that the committee would vote before Town Meeting. Timothy Gordon, chairman of the selectmen, could not be reached for comment Tuesday or Wednesday.

The junior-senior high school building is widely considered among officials and parents to be in poor condition.

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Town Administrator William Phelan said the selectmen had not taken a position on the article and would probably not do so until this week, perhaps not until Wednesday. The board often meets before Town Meeting.

Joseph Baeta, superintendent of schools, said he had not received any indication from the Massachusetts School Building Authority, which controls school construction funds, that the town would be required to conduct such a study. He also said the cost of the study would not be eligible for state reimbursement.

The article was submitted for the warrant by the Permanent School Building Committee. Chairman Daniel Moriarty could not be reached for comment on two consecutive days last week, nor could the vice chairman or other members.

Also on tap for Town Meeting is a local meals tax of 0.75 percent. The town administrator said the idea “received a pretty cool response” from selectmen but the board did not take a vote.

Town Meeting begins at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday at Holbrook Junior-Senior High School.

Jennette Barnes can be reached at
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