It's one of most hotly debated issues these days,
And in an effort to reach more Ridgefield residents and gain further perspective on views held by those who don't speak at public meetings, the Board of Education voted Monday night to distribute online a questionnaire regarding the possible closure of an elementary school in town.
The survey would ask three questions anonymously concerning the future configuration of K-5 education: whether the resident is a parent of school-age children, and of what age; whether the resident has attended any of the information sessions or read Superintendent Deborah Low's presentation; and, finally, it would ask the resident to rank the three long-term approaches the district might take.
These approaches are to close one of the six elementary schools in town, to redistrict for three neighborhoods each with a K-2 and 3-5 arrangement or keep all six schools active as they are.
Though the vote passed 5-2 to distribute the questionnaire, it wasn't without debate over the wording and statistical viability thereof.
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Board members Christopher Murray and John Palermo voted against the motion, citing a lack of scientific validity in the method of reporting results.
"This is not a valid survey," Murray said. "These questions don't get to the heart of the matter."
For that reason, Murray requested the board change the wording from "survey" to "questionnaire," suggesting the questions leaned in the direction of keeping a school open without mention of the economic benefits of closing one.
"We have to be clear that this isn't a vote," Board member Amy Shinohara said. "That this is for information purposes only."
"It's another forum to collect public comment," Board Chair Austin Drukker said. "I will not base my decision solely on this piece of information."
Other members of the board who supported the motion, though, said the survey would be for informational purposes only and that its results would be just part of the information gleaned over years of debate.
The survey would be created via the website surveymonkey.com and distributed as a link in several media outlets, such as the school website, the Ridgefield Patch and the Ridgefield Press, Low said.
"After three years of hearing about this and gathering information," said Board member Irene Burgess, "it's just one more piece of the pie."
"As long as we take responses as informational only," Burgess continued, "I don't see why this would be a bad thing."