As was stated in an earlier letter, there are indeed two Paul Fs running for School Committee in Groton. Both are good men. Both want to represent their community, which is honorable in and of itself. Both believe strongly in public education. At this point, however, the candidates start to diverge.
In the past several years, this particular School Committee has had a fair amount of turnover and the gradual and steady shift towards fiscal conservatism and fiscal responsibility finally occurred. Where there once was a cavalier attitude towards budget overrides and an expectation that the two towns should unquestioningly support any school budget, now there exists a fresh atmosphere of trust, respect and open communication. The School Committee, the administration, and the boards of selectmen and finance committees have sat down for each of the last two years to hammer out a series of fiscal compromises that protected our taxpayers while it supported education and our children. We have to be cognizant not just of the desire but also of the ability of our taxpayers and residents to handle a specific tax load. We must rely on the informed voices of town officials to help determine what that is. We can not simply sit back and listen or react to the doom and gloom naysayers who bemoan that our district is going to hell in a hand basket.
Paul Fitzgerald has fit into this committee quite well. He is one voice among seven that attempt to get the most out of every program, every employee and every opportunity. He is a voice of reason and restraint who constantly reminds us that we have a responsibility to all of our students to perform as well as we can with the resources we have. Paul Fitzgerald knows that it is the state that should be fulfilling its fiscal responsibilities before we attempt to yet again stretch the fragile pocketbooks of our seniors, young parents and already-beleaguered taxpayers.
The basic difference is this: Paul Fitzgerald believes in getting the most education out of every single penny for each taxpayer. Paul Funch believes in getting the most pennies out of every taxpayer for education. The School Committee was told by Mr. Funch that we “set our sights low” for our budget. We didn’t. We’ve been told we have “dropped the ball” and that we’ve “taken the wrong path.” I know we haven’t. As a long-serving member of the School Committee, I can tell you that this committee and Paul Fitzgerald do the work for all residents, and I would ask all Groton voters to join me in support of Paul Fitzgerald on election day so that we — and he — can continue to “carry that ball.”