Below are the notes from our third meeting in which was held in Rutland. It was so helpful to have some people from Rutland there to give us more insight into the town’s issues and better ways to reach out its citizens.
The main highlights are:
- We are starting the 100% Transportation Funding Campaign to get the state to pay what they promised for regional transportation costs. This money would help some of the towns more easily pass the WRSD budget without overrides. This campaign with a petition attached will coordinate well with the towns’ letter writing campaign which is asking state legislators for the same thing.
- We’ll try to get the word out with our new campaign by attending town events.
- The next IAW meeting is Wednesday, 12/6 at First Church in Sterling @ 7pm.
3rd Meeting – 11/8/17
Rutland Community Center
Attendance: 10-15 people. A few new faces from Rutland, thank you for coming!
Review notes from last meeting:
- If anyone would like to see the full notes they are on our BRAND NEW WEBSITE!
- Our short term goal was to get people in seats at the WRSD round table meeting on 11/2. Well done folks, we had about 37 people in the audience.
- people noticed we were there, the tone of the conversation was different.
- expected more conversation about reducing the budget but that’s not what we heard. Not going above the 2.5% was not mentioned as much as expected.
- Consensus on getting the state to pay their fair share
- Question raised: Does the district have legal recourse to sue the state for reimbursement of transportation budget?
- Some Holden Selectmen want to pull the other towns in, and other regional districts, to look into this idea. This was raised at the round table briefly by Selectman Lavigne.
- There was a call for Darryl to pull all these districts together. Does he have time to take that on as well.
- Could MARS (MA Association of Regional Schools) do it, do they have resources? Who would reach out to MARS? Superintendent? Would it be helpful to let the BoS know that we are interested in them pursuing the lawsuit?
- Every town has legal counsel… ask chapter 71c review. Ask BoS to ask them. Loop hole is always, “subject to funds”. What is their legal opinion?
Campaigning the State to Pay Their Fair Share
Basically, the discussion started around the idea of a letter writing campaign, aimed at the chairs of the Ways and Means Committee and the Committee on Education. Quickly, we realized that we really need to come up with a united campaign (slogan and logo) around the idea that we need the state to fully fund our transportation budget. We still plan to get a letter campaign going, but decided to focus on a petition to start with.
- By law the state should pay 100% of our transportation costs.
- Last year they paid 73%, which left the towns to cover 27% or approximately 1 million dollars.
- This amount was the difference between needing an override in Paxton and Rutland and NOT needing an override.
- In the past 9 years, WRSD missed out on $12 million dollars that state owed us.
In order to get the attention this matter deserves, a big splash needs to be made! Some selectmen are talking about actually GOING to the state house to make our case. If we could get a focused campaign going before then, it would have a much bigger impact.
Everyone liked the idea of ¾ or 73% of a bus as our main idea.
Below is a summary of how this discussion unfolded:
Letter writing campaign
The clerk of Paxton mentioned this idea at the WRSD round table and other towns agreed to also take part. IAmWachusett can activate to get as many letters sent as possible! Let’s laser focus on email, phone and letters to the state for Wachusett.
Discuss Drafts of Letters to send:
- Fill in letter, differentiates each letter to make personal.
- Parent, citizen and child drafts
- If each of us agrees to put 5 stamps on 5 envelopes and get those letters out.
- There are 4 main people to send to on website
- If emailing: cc local representatives
- Class writing assignment? High school civics teachers? Or part of a club. Contact the 2 student reps?
- Do we need parent permission if we right anything about kids who are in special education.
- Spread the letters out over time to be most effective
- Use PTO’s to spread the word? Would you do this? Would you have your kids do this at home?
- Just have pta’s share info that we exist? And send them to us.
- Would principal send home letters? Some were interested in helping us. Would they attach to their newsletter?
- This is advocacy on a bill that exists that directly impacts our kids vs a political agenda
- The town select boards, do they have a plan? Commitment to write letters. We need to GO to the state house. Who can Kim Ferguson and Ann Gobi get us in to see?
- When do we want to press go on the letters? Should we get our campaign and network organized first?
- Town populations total: 42,435 thousand approx. How many letters do we need to make an impact?
Petition vs (or along with) Letters:
- Should we send petition instead? Who would we send it to? What would it look like?
- It would be more generic. Do you agree with our petition to have the state fully fund our transportation budget, then sign yes. The petition would show we have, for ex: 4,000 people who agree with our mission and to fully fund the transportation budget.
- Allows the activist group to stand outside places and talk to people.
- We can start this now while we build letter campaign
- Don’t need registered voters. Just need name and town (maybe town). Try to get email.
- advertise to webpage. Add your name to the petition
Ways to get visibility for the state cause, IAW-InAction and get petition signatures:
- another way to get visibility: festival of trees in Rutland. Register for a tree. Put buses on the tree. With 100% on them. Decorate with only 73%of the bus? 3 tires?
- important to say going to the STATE — no one is asking the voters to pay more money themselves.
- Make the state keep its promise. Help I Am Wachusett get the money WRSD is promised.
- need catchy slogan
- flip card video?
- Glenwood craft fair. Need to buy a table.
- davis hill craft fair.
- lawn signs around town?
- Stand out with signs in main part of towns
- have the sign tell the story. First day #iamwachusett. 2nd day: next part… 3rd day… next part.
- literally buy and make the ¾ bus
- this is what they promised: whole bus. This is what they gave us: part of bus.
- buttons. Wear them around. Give to people who sign petition or standing out for visibility.
- literally tow the bus to the state house, make a big impact, get news
- should we network with other regional districts?
- former student owns a bus.
- Keep green. Keep font.
- What is the slogan? Long term goal or short term goal. Short term goal of state funding for now.
- Need slogan and logo.
- need within a week
Logo and Slogan:
- Need ASAP. Based on bus and 73% funded
- Write petition. We’re hoping to get 5-10k in names. Linda has offered to get a petition started.
Visibility and acquiring signatures:
- Glenwood Craft Fair: Dec 18th in Rutland.
- Festival of Trees: Dec 2nd and 3rd in Rutland. We can enter a tree design and a gingerbread house design. We would need people from the group to attend to acquire signature and answer questions
- Davis Hill Craft Fair: Dec. 9 in Holden
- Dawson Book Fair: Dec 13th and 14th in Holden
- Houghton Holiday Fair: Dec 14 in Sterling
Ideas for these events and things needed:
- Purchase of a table or entry (except Dawson Book Fair)
- Staffing: people to set up, get signatures, answer questions, clean up
- Craft for kids to do at the table: perhaps coloring sheets with ¾ of a bus and the kids draw in the last part of the bus. Try to collect drawings or take pics of them.
- Large visual of a ¾ bus. Perhaps a cardboard built one the kids could climb in.
- Send letters to the editor of The Landmark as often as possible
- Stand out at different spots in town with signs to get visibility