News, schools, and views from a uniquely Lowell perspective
28th May 2010

Sad day for schools

posted in Education, Money Matters, school committee |

Last night, as I listened to nearly three hours of impassioned pleas from parents, students and staff to save our “sports, fine arts, librarians, clubs…” I couldn’t help but feel dangerously close to tears of frustration and sadness. Here we are again, trying to provide a high-quality education for our children in the face of declining revenues. When the speeches were done, the committee stood united and voted to reduce the budget by $4 million, woefully shy of the projected $7-$9 million shortfall, and yet, our best attempt to meet a continuing crisis in funding without decimating our school system.  (The line-by-line discussion and cuts will occur at Tuesday’s budget hearing, June 1, which begins at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers.) We absolutely cannot go further than $4 million in cuts without doing lasting damage, which is why I am preparing for battle with the same-old players: city, state, staff, so stay tuned for more in a later post.

An article in today’s Sun gives some specifics about what the $4 million in cuts entail, based on the superintendent’s recommendations, with one major exception at the high school level: the cuts of $249,000 for athletics, $71,000 for clubs, and 13 full-time teachers do not address specific programs or staff, but simply state the amount to be reduced. The specific teacher cuts will be determined based on student course selection, which will  happen before June 15 to meet our contractual obligation regarding layoff notification. The club and sports cuts will be made based on discussions through the summer with the teachers’ union regarding stipends, as well as information regarding parity in funding for these programs. As much as I loved the passionate speeches of our students, in particular, it was a truly sad way to spend  a Thursday evening, knowing the revenue just wasn’t there.

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