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I support the Proposition Two and half override, which, according to letter writer John Bottino, makes me a tax-and-spend person. But John Bottino is wrong; I am not a tax-and-spend person. I am just one of those from whom a small amount of “hard-earned” money would go to support my community should the override pass.

I am not wealthy, and I do not have a child who will be attending the Shirley public schools. But what I do have is a community, and I know what happens in communities that do not support their young people. Crime increases, thus the need for increased services. The overall level of education of its citizens declines, thus so does our quality of life.

Every resident of our community has a vested interest in our public schools, whether or not we have children in them, for we will live in the society these children create. None of us can afford to live in a community where children are not supported to achieve at their fullest capacity, or even worse, where some children fail entirely. Even those who send their children to private school have a strong vested interest in the success and strength of the public schools.

In our own small school system, we have seen enormous cuts in services at the same time that the demands on teachers and administrators have greatly increased. We, as do other school systems, have many more children with special needs of all kinds, but do not receive the support from the federal government that mandates their level of services. We have increased requirements for the administration of various state and federal tests. We have increased requirements for the care of children whose families are in crisis and for working families who need extended day care.

To quote Mr. Bottino, “(t)he choice is up to the people to keep Shirley an affordable town for all.” We cannot afford to sit idly by while our community’s children continue to go without regular physical education, without an adequate number of adults in their kindergarten classes, without the opportunity to take advantage of technology, and without the support of the very adults in our community who should be serving as role models for them.

The people who say those of us who support the schools should “put more of their time and energy into working with politicians in the state and federal governments ” — (we do, by the way) — should spend one day in a classroom. That can really change a person’s perspective on what is important.

The loss of students to school choice is much more expensive than the small sum being requested for the override, and the loss is not just that of students (and thus money for the town); we are losing excellent administrators and may be losing some of our superb teaching staff as well.

Our teachers are taking on more and more responsibilities, with what appears to be little support from the town of Shirley. Teachers do not get the perks of those in the business world — you know, little things like a real lunch break and a job that ends at 5. Teachers work night and day for the education and welfare of other people’s children for not very much money. The least that our community can do for them and for our children is to be willing to spend a little to save a lot. Yes, we can work with our state and federal governments, but that does not preclude us from doing what we can right here at home.

Make a difference. Please vote yes on July 24.




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