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The school budget has been cut by $649,234. Because of this, the schools have lost half of their buses (four), technology expenses, a special education teaching assistant, much of their facilities maintenance, an administrative assistant, the school psychologist, the middle school librarian, a grade eight teacher, a grade seven teacher, and an elementary school reading assistant. They are also having to raise sports and facilities rental fees.

Now, students in grades seven and eight will have only a half-year of science and social studies — two core subjects, one of which is on the eighth-grade MCAS. Small children will have to walk to school where there are no sidewalks and there is a major train crossing and there will be no certified librarian in the middle school, nor any school psychologist.

The School Committee and school administration, knowing that the town was suffering from a huge deficit, agreed to compromise their budget by going along with the Finance Committee budget recommendation, even though it short-changed the schools by $221,545 — enough money to put most of those lost positions back into place (although not enough to restore the buses).

The School Committee and school administration, knowing that the town was suffering from a huge deficit, agreed to compromise their budget by going along with the Finance Committee budget recommendation, even though it short-changed the schools by $221,545 — enough money to put most of those lost positions back into place (although not enough to restore the buses).

I noticed at the June 23 town meeting, suddenly pocketbooks were open — the voters decided that they would fund the requests (over and above the FinCom recommendations) of other departments with no override stipulation, even though it means that the town will need to raise taxes in order to pay for them. As a result, the School Department may be the only major one that elected to be fair and let the entire voting population of the town vote on the amount of their request over the amount recommended in the FinCom’s balanced budget.

The School Committee respected the town enough to defer to a townwide vote on the nearly quarter-million dollars needed to restore some of these important school positions.

The school children do not immediately impact as many citizens as do Fire and Police departments, but they deserve the same opportunities that the rest of us had growing up. Since the end of the school year, already many more families have elected to choice out their children to districts with higher taxes supporting their schools. This means that the town is going to lose more than the $1.1 million we lost due to choice and charter schools last fiscal year.

Short-changing the schools has proven to be penny-wise and pound foolish. Why did these people choice their children out? Because they saw the schools losing more and more teachers and support staff, as well as programs like library and technology.

As a citizen, I feel that I let the schools down by not making a motion at town meeting that the school budget request be affirmed with no Proposition two and a half override contingency. I have to admit that I was thrown off balance by the way that town meeting voters decided to ignore the FinCom balanced budget and run up the town’s tab on so many other items. Even some FinCom members ignored their own recommendations. If only they had done so when the school budget came up. Then I would not be so desperate to find a school system for my son that has what our town has taken away.

I urge all citizens who care about maintaining (or restoring) the character of our town with a community-based, healthy school system to vote “yes” to support our schools when the override question comes up on the ballot. The town meeting voters decided to go over budget in other areas of the town; the schools are equally as important.

Sincerely,

DINA SAMFIELD

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