Brookline co-op study panel, lawmakers to meet

HOLLIS -The Brookline Co-op Study Committee plans to meet with state representatives and candidates for the state Legislature this week to discuss what the study committee agrees are “inherent imbalances” in current laws governing cooperatives.

The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Hollis/Brookline Middle School.

“The law promotes instability, a feeling of temporariness,” said Jim Murphy, chairman of the Brookline study committee.

As chairman, Murphy also serves as a non-voting member of the Hollis Co-op Study Committee.

Murphy said the issues his committee is grappling with affect cooperative school districts statewide.

He said the Brookline study committee called for the meeting with the lawmakers to draw attention to three issues: the tax impact on the remaining community if a member withdraws; the forced dissolution of the school district, if one of two members, withdraws; and issues surrounding reconfiguration of a school district, which are not addressed in the law.

The first item on the committee’s three-point list deals with the tax protection for all towns in the district, not just the town where the co-op schools are located.

The second issue looks at the impact of unilateral withdrawal, specifically the tax impact on the town left behind.

The third point examines grade reduction, which is not covered by any state law.

“The towns are not equally protected if one withdraws,” Murphy said, observing that if Hollis leaves the district, Brookline must carry the financial burden of replacing a school.

In addition, he said, a two-member cooperative can be dissolved if one member withdraws, leaving the other with unanticipated debt, whatever it costs to replace the lost school space.

“They can decide unilaterally,” Murphy said.