Photo: Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor:
We are all stressed these days. We are working from home, learning from home, socialize online and managing many emotions. We transform every room in the house from dining room to classroom to board room and beyond. Everyone is tired and we yearn for how things used to be.
But do we really want things to go back to “normal”? Regardless of how you interpret this question, I hope we do not return to how things used to be. If we have learned anything through this pandemic, how it used to be doesn’t work. Blindly throwing more money at a problem does not solve the problem.
Since the day we closed schools down more than a year ago, our administration and school committee have failed our students and families. The School Committee was not and still is not up to the task at hand. Its primary role is to negotiate with the Belmont Education Association (BEA) which they have utterly failed to do over and over this year.
Teachers must also take part of this blame. Although many teachers have worked hard to transition to remote learning, others have chosen politics, toed the line and committed a grave disservice to the students they are supposed to serve. Shame on them.
Our families are left in dismay and frustrated; the ones who are able are running for the hills, searching for solutions outside the district in any way they can. Those remaining are engaged in arguments of spending more money because they do not see a better way forward, despite the negative impacts on many of our families that are barely making ends meet. We are a year into a pandemic, which is by no means near its end. Our parents and students are understandably dissatisfied and have a right to be upset, but where should this frustration be focused? The leadership, “lack of funding,” or should it be something else that is goes below the surface?
I have run twice for town office in two years. Both times with the position of reducing our overall town spending. No one wants to run on a platform to reduce spending which is admittedly an uphill battle, but one I believe must be undertaken. Even those who are in favor of the proposed override, agree that we lack fiscal oversight and management in town. Everyone agrees that we spend more than our revenue. Everyone agrees the town deficit is an inherited from generations of the past.
What we cannot agree on is how we fix the problem. There are many ways we can come together to solve this problem. However, this ridiculous push to continuing to spend our way out of a deficit is not sustainable. This approach will never force change upon our leadership and will forever be a financial burden on families.
I agree with Jeff Liberty’s Letter to the Editor published in the Belmontonian on March 21. Everyone is exhausted with the same conversations and arguments every single election. What I do not agree with; however, is electing the same people again and again or replacing leaders with their cronies that prevent to town from moving forward to create meaningful change for the betterment of our town and our educational system.
I understand and agree someone like me who is outspoken and takes unpopular opinions can be a scary decision at the ballot box. After years of ineffective meetings, committees, communication, and lack of good decision making, it is time to demand change. It’s time to hold our current leaders and their mistakes accountable with your vote.
Voting either yes or no for the override will have real consequences. Ask yourself: will your family, friends, and neighbors still be able to live here after you cast your vote? Will you be able to look them in the eye and tell them you voted yes or no? Will your vote truly create fiscal control? A no vote gives us a real opportunity for change. A yes vote ensures the status quo.
The town argues that current services are unsustainable in the current environment. I disagree. We are delaying hard but inevitable choices, structural changes that must be made. These changes must be made despite the outcome of the vote. Our community relies on us, collectively, to work together for the greater good. We want great teachers – we have many – we want to support our seniors to age in place – some are – and we want to have inclusive community – we are definitely not there yet.
Years of ineffective leadership and mismanagement have taken us to where we are today. This is a simple and undeniable fact, and one we talk about during every election cycle. We have historically underfunded our schools and town departments because of, not despite of, the mismanagement of funds, which has caused division within our community.
Challenges can also bring a community together, and because of this I am hopeful. The challenges we face are clear and defined, and therefore resolvable. This will require trust in each other and accepting new ways of thinking.
The conclusion should be simple. Vote no against the override on April 6. Demonstrate your anger and dissatisfaction with our town’s leaders. Show you want real accountability and demand a clear, actionable plan for our collective future. Show you want a School Committee that will strongly negotiate for all our children and get them back in school. Show you want Town Meeting members that will put your precincts interest before their own. Show the Select Board that fiscally responsibility is a priority. And show you matter; demand this now.
Timothy Flood, Wiley Road, Candidate for School Committee