To the editor:
Vote “YES” on April 7th
The need is clear: rising enrollment and costly mandates necessitate additional funding if we are to continue to offer our children a quality K-12 education. The statistics are compelling:
- the total number of students has risen by 317 in the last five years.
- Belmont High’s Class of 2014 had 270 students; there were 350 Kindergarten students last fall.
- two sub-groups of students with higher needs and costly mandated services have increased rapidly:
- the number of English Language Learners has climbed from 95 to 222 in the last six years
- the number of students needed specialized schooling outside the district has increased from 81 in June 2013 to 97 in January 2015 (the average annual cost for an out-of-district placement is $65,000).
Patching the school budget with one-time funds as we’ve done in recent years is no longer a solution. If we don’t pass an override to meet these new realities, the steps needed to balance next year’s budget and beyond will without question degrade the quality of Belmont’s Public Schools, including fewer teachers, increased class size, and cuts in programs and electives.
Passing the override will enable us to maintain our existing programs and address the enrollment increases. The override is designed to stabilize the budgets for at least the next three years; and the School Department and School Committee have every incentive to continue to work hard to control costs so that stable and predictable budgets extend well beyond that horizon.
Operating overrides are in Belmont a rare occurrence; and continued tight cost control will be necessary to preserve a stable and predictable budget outlook so that we can retain top teachers, key electives, and reasonable class sizes in the years ahead.
Please join me in voting “YES” for the override on April 7.
(Note: Slap is the chair of the Belmont School Committee.)
Scott Stratford says
Ann–elected officials have as much right to make their opinions known as anyone. What they cannot do is use public financial resources–mailings paid for by the Town (or, in this case, the School Department), etc.–to advocate for or against a ballot question. That is not only unethical but illegal.
Frankly, as a 12-year veteran of the School Committee, I think it’s the duty of Laurie and her colleagues to inform the public about their stand on overrides, debt exclusions, etc. that affect the school system. And the same is true for our Selectmen–two of whom have already been very vocal in support of this override. In fact, the Selectmen will presumably take a formal vote regarding the override, as they have done on similar ballot questions in the past–and perhaps the School Committee will do so as well.
But, back to the concern you voiced: no one forfeits their right to free speech by taking an oath of office.
Ann Reynolds says
is this a conflict of interest for Ms. Slap to take a position on an override? Should elected officials tell us how to vote?
roger colton says
Who better to be able to inform us of the needs? It is exactly the sort of leadership we need to get this over-ride passed. A failure to vote “yes” will be devastating to the schools, and folks should know the community should be told that.
Scott Stratford says
Anne–elected officials have as much right to make their opinions known as anyone. What they cannot do is use public resources–mailings paid for by the Town (in this case, Schools), etc.–to advocate for or against a ballot question. That is not only unethical but illegal.
Frankly, as a 12-year veteran of the School Committee, I think it’s the duty of Laurie and her colleagues to inform the public about their stand on overrides, debt exclusions, etc.. And the same is true for our Selectmen–two of whom have been very vocal in support of this override.
No one forfeits their right to free speech by taking an oath of office.