News, schools, and views from a uniquely Lowell perspective
16th May 2010

Schools in distress

posted in Education, Money Matters |

In Kendall Wallace’s chat yesterday, he sounds a warning alarm regarding the level of cuts the Lowell Public Schools are exploring to meet a projected shortfall of $6-9 million in next year’s budget. Wallace and I have been known to disagree on many things, especially if I am critical of the high school, but on this issue we are steadfastly aligned: Cuts this deep will devastate our public school system.

Perhaps that sounds like a familiar tune to you. Since 2003, when I was prompted to run for school committee because of shrinking school resources, we have continued to reduce programs, eliminate positions and close schools (about 500 positions since 2002). Many of those positions in the early years were absorbed through attrition, but those days are long behind us. Layoffs have become necessary, and last year the district spent about $750K on unemployment costs, which says nothing about the impact on the education of our children.  Lowell is not alone in facing draconian cuts, an example of which is this article about Brockton in yesterday’s Boston Globe.  And while, to varying degrees, other districts are facing fiscal concerns, the solution for Lowell rests with our community. The school committee cannot cut its way out of this crisis without severe consequences to the gains we have made in student performance. Our state legislators must provide the reform tools to save costs without impacting student learning; our city council must allocate the funds necessary to protect one of the city’s most important assets, its schools; our unions must make concessions to save jobs; and yes, the school committee must explore every potential cost savings and efficiency with laser-sharp focus on maintaining student learning. (More on all this in later posts.) In the meantime, please pay attention and be involved because we all have a stake in solving this fiscal crisis without devastating our schools.

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