Lakeville-Freetown School District faces uncertain future

By: Alexandra Cowley

These days, even successful school districts are not immune to money problems. The Freetown–Lakeville District has gotten creative over the past few years trying to maintain excellence in the classroom while keeping its budget intact, but the costs have now reached a breaking point. Leaving the rural community with two choices: increase taxes or make major cuts.

Like most freshman in high school, Molly Rodenbush came to Apponequet with high hopes. Anxious to find her place, and succeed.

 “This place means a lot to me,”said Rodenbush.

Molly is the third Rodenbush to walk these halls. Her two older sisters graduated with honors and went on to do great things in college. But Rodenbush's aspirations are in limbo, budget constraints have put AP courses and electives on the chopping block.

Interim Superintendent Jessica Huizenga says the district has been scraping by these past few years.

“We have done everything to keep cuts away from the classroom,”she said.

Now, the funds are long gone. The district now faces a 2 and a half million dollar deficit. 35 teacher positions are in danger of getting cut, and the district used to being on top, will fall.

So Huizenga is sounding the alarm, “We're looking for your help in Freetown and Lakeville.”

Getting the word out to residents in a 17 minute video, put together by New England Video Productions, and holding budget meetings for parents.

She's letting parents know that the fate of their children's education lies in a town vote to raise property taxes.

The same vote has been on the ballot and failed before.

“This is the ballot from 2009,” explained Lakeville Town Selectman Scott Belliveau. In 2009, the override was turned down with an overwhelming majority of the towns residents voting no.

If it fails again, the town's only option would be cuts to the police and fire departments.

“There's no other way to do it,” Belliveau said.

The school committee will review the budget on March 20th before making a proposal to town selectman. In the meantime all parents and students can do is make their voices heard.

“I just want them to realize how much it means to us, because I don't think they know,” said Rodenbush.