The Bethel Community Gazette was founded as a place to go to get "old-fashioned" journalism focused on presenting the facts to the reader and letting the reader make informed decisions. This ranges from reporting on activities of our local government, the schools and the community at large.
If ever we doubted the need for our little newspaper and our mission, the events associated with the recent school sale of surplus computer equipment couldn't have made a better case for the need and our mission.
The facts are simple enough. Our schools had 240 out of date, surplus notebooks. The School Department followed published procedures that have been in place since 1992 and offered the equipment to the Town. At a Board of Selectmen meeting, it was unanimously voted to let the Schools dispose of the equipment. Still following published procedure, it was arranged to offer the equipment, first to staff and students as is required by School Board policy, and then to the public. The ROTC volunteered to assist with the disposal - continuing a proud tradition of extensive public service and leadership by some of our community's finest youth. They underestimated the demand by the staff and students, and some public did arrive early, so by the time the public en masse arrived at 6 p.m. on the 18th, the 240 notebooks had been sold off - deeply and understandably disappointing to the prospective buyers.
What has followed has been an appalling online flogging of the ROTC student volunteers and the school staff, complete with headlines such as "Sale of Bethel High School iMacs and Chromebooks Questioned As Unethical" and including references to Town ordinances that don't apply in an apparent attempt to accuse them of malfeasance while ignoring the actual regulations, regulations that were clearly followed. The depth of the vitriol has been significant, the twisting of context deeply perverse and the good intentions of those involved so obvious we had to report the actual facts even though this is a non-story by almost any journalistic measure. Nothing wrong or even "newsworthy" was done, but the misinformation about it has been extensive.
We applaud the ROTC for working with the Bethel Schools to distribute the surplus equipment, even as we feel deeply for those who were disappointed. We hope that the disappointment of those who missed out can be avoided in the future by the excellent ideas for improvement from our School staff.