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In a recent letter to the editor [“A Strategy for Shrinking Demographics,” Aug. 8], Jonathan Stein addressed the newly released draft of Madison’s Strategic Plan. It was a great team effort with all five of the selectmen presenting different parts of the plan and taking ownership of it in a bipartisan manner. First Selectman Tom Banisch should be commended for including all members of the Board of Selectmen (BOS) in this important process. Mr. Stein made many good points about what the plan did not include and his suggestions should be considered as the plan moves forward.
It is, however, important to get the facts straight. Mr. Stein addressed the changing demographics and population decline of our town, as evidenced by this year’s kindergarten enrollment. Although the student population is declining, Madison is still a town of more than 18,000 people who require services. We still have the same number of roads to pave and plow and police services to provide. Unlike our schools, the town has not closed any buildings and facilities. Madison’s student population has declined 27 percent over the last 10 years and, contrary to Mr. Stein’s statement, the school operating budget has increased every year despite declining enrollment.
Thankfully our school capital building debt is going down, however, touting this as reduced education spending as a result of declining enrollment is misleading. It’s critical that we recognize the student enrollment issue and reassess future spending and tax levels, accordingly. Madison has a superior school system and town services should be, as well. The Strategic Plan should not become a political football. We all need to support the BOS as it creates a vision for the future of this special town.
Tim and Susan Smith
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