BREWSTER — Sarah Harlow Sherman won a one-year term on the Brewster School Committee in the May 25 town election by defeating Rheanna Hastings. The vote was 1,675 to 839.
Cathryn B. Lonsdale and Richard Charles Draper, with 1,914 and 1,658 votes, respectively, were elected to the Nauset Regional School Committee (NRSC) over Dion C. Dugan, who got 736 votes.
Hastings, the Independent reported on May 20, had at one point this spring been named Lower Cape team captain for the United Cape Patriots, a politically conservative group that was recruiting candidates for local school committees.
Citizen petitions aimed at reducing school-choice out-of-district enrollment in the Nauset Regional Schools failed at both the May 15 Brewster town meeting, in a 144-75 vote, and at the May 25 Orleans town meeting, by a vote of 152 to 49.
Both petitioned articles sought to reduce school-choice enrollment to 2 percent or less of the total student population and asked that Truro and Provincetown, which are not in the Nauset Regional School District but send many students to its schools, to pay a share of operating, capital, and debt service costs. The two towns are currently paying tuition of about $18,500 per student under an agreement that runs through the 2023-2024 school year.
The articles’ proponents had argued that per-student costs far exceeded the approximately $5,800 per-student reimbursement from the state for out-of-district students other than those from Truro and Provincetown. They claimed that district taxpayers were subsidizing the program by more than $4 million a year.
“The frustrating thing with numbers is that you really can make them say whatever you want to say,” said NRSC member Josh Stewart at the Orleans town meeting. “The committee has looked at the supposed costs of school choice every year. It’s determined that there is zero additional net cost to the schools. We are making money off of school choice, and we are providing a higher-quality educational program at the high school because of it.”
He noted that the NRSC holds a public forum each spring on school choice and a vote on school choice is taken at every school. “A nonbinding referendum at a town meeting isn’t really the place to discuss this,” Stewart said. “So, we’d love to have more of you at our school committee meetings. Come, check out our numbers, talk to us. But this right here is not going to do anything productive for our schools.”