St. John Valley

Time to work together

Being the educational leader of a region comes with a great deal of responsibility. This is a responsibility that I accept with all my heart and soul as the Superintendent of Schools for Valley Regional Education Service Center.

In my commitment to this position, I look to serve the Valley Unified Community, which is not defined by a single zip code or town line, and place the region’s students as the focus of my work. Our students deserve an education that prepares them for their future, not one that is defined by our past. We have been fortunate to have great schools for so many years, but now it is time to be future ready, for as the world changes, so must our region. Fortunately, we have a great team.

The efforts by Valley Unified, to secure millions of dollars in grants and a new regional high school, both founded on a commitment for our communities to work together, is an amazing opportunity for the entire region that we cannot let pass, or view in a negative light. It is truly unfortunate that those who are the loudest in their opposition are incorrectly being identified as a voice for their community. They are not. Now is not the time for individuals to create their own truths, choosing to ignore what is right before their eyes. 

Outward migration, an aging population, and increasing property taxes are all indications that our region is hurting. Our schools are being impacted. Luckily, we do have those who are aware of the realities, and view these opportunities as hope for a better future. They are individuals who are champions of change, serving as a hope for our region, doing what it takes to make a positive impact. 

Although the minds of individuals who do not wish to acknowledge fact and data for what they are may not change, the public deserves facts about this project. We feel it is necessary to inform the public about the Valley Unified administrative role in the site selection process. From day one, we have been honest with the local and regional school boards that those who represent Valley Unified will play no role in the site selection process other than to convey information from the engineers and the site selection committees to the local and regional school boards and vice versa. We represent Valley Unified, not one town over another. The information we receive from the engineers is the information that is shared with the committee and displayed at public meetings, which we encourage people to attend and hear the information first hand. Valley Unified personnel are not playing puppet in this process. 

Valley Unified is proud of the work they have done to secure the best possible education for our region. It is our hope our collaborative efforts help ease the tax burden that has been placed upon us. This opportunity is too valuable and too important to lose. We ask that all residents look beyond ego, beyond traditions, and beyond negativity to at least entertain the truth. No one is forced to agree with the facts and those determinations that are needed to maintain educational sustainability; but, we do ask that citizens refrain from questioning the integrity and character of individuals in this process. 

Remember, the negative thoughts and opinions of one individual or group do not speak for an entire community. There are many considerate, polite, well-informed, and decent people in all the communities of our region. Some have been following the many meetings and our public informational sessions. Others have contacted us directly for verification of statements they have heard. We are happy to respond to citizens who have questions, and desire more information and facts. Aside from all scheduled informational sessions, we have also offered to come to your organization if you would like to have a presentation. 

The Valley Unified Schools are founded on four simple core values that we instill in our learners: respect, responsibility, honesty, and engaged/invested learning. We are doing our part in the schools to teach and model this with your children. Communities, it’s your turn to model that to our learners as well. They deserve nothing less, and they are watching closely at how we decide their future and how we behave among one another. 

Benjamin Sirois is the superintendent of schools and executive director of the Valley Unified Education Service Center.

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