News, schools, and views from a uniquely Lowell perspective
8th June 2010

Community to discuss city budget tonight

posted in Education, Money Matters |

Talk on the street is that tonight’s hearing on the city manager’s proposed budget will be exceptionally contentious with lots of folks voicing their unhappiness with rising fees and salaries, as well as concern for school funding, among other things. The budget hearing begins at 5 pm in Council Chambers and will be televised live on LTC channel 10. For my part, I will make my annual pilgrimage to the council to plead for school resources. Despite the fact that the city manager’s proposed budget increases school funding by $1.17 million and assumes $1 million in school-building energy costs, it still leaves the district with a $1 million shortfall even after the school committee made deep cuts in the system.

The manager’s proposed budget includes significant adjustments for the schools, and I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but it is not enough considering the $4 million in cuts we’ve already made and the continued shortfall we face. The reality is the schools have been cutting staff and programs for years, including an $8 million cut last year. Historically, Lowell does not have a great record in terms of supporting its schools although it has made improvements in that direction since 2006. Last year was the first time the city met its minimum required school contribution since education reform 17 years ago. This year’s contribution surpasses the minimum but is not enough to close the deficit, and while the schools will layoff more than 60 people, the city has no layoffs in its budget and is giving raises. Where is the shared pain and commitment to protecting the education of our children, one of our community’s most important assets? It will not matter how many renovated buildings, new businesses or increased energy efficiency we gain; if our young people are not educated adequately, our community will not thrive.

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