Easthampton schools have heart, need funds
To the editor:
The Easthampton public schools have always lived within their means, but we have reached the end of the road. Early budget figures for 2013-2014 indicate a gap in funding of up to $900,000. We have no place to go without beginning to dismantle this school system that has filled us with pride over the years.
Over the last two years, 22 teaching, administrative, paraprofessional, secretarial and custodial positions have been lost or reduced, Parsons School was closed and an additional $133,000 in programs, textbooks and supplies have been lost.
Everyone in the school system has worked hard to continue to maintain a quality education for the students of Easthampton. We have stretched everyone and every program as far as it can be stretched to continue to uphold the quality education community members have come to expect from our schools. We have cut classroom teachers, reading and math support teachers, school psychologists, special education teachers and the world languages program at the middle school.
We have one principal, without an assistant, responsible for two buildings with close to 200 students in each. A gap in funding this coming year will mean the elimination of more programs and services for the students of Easthampton.
The school choice program allows parents to take children out of their own schools and enroll them in another community’s schools. We have to pay tuition for every child who leaves our school system, which costs the city a minimum of $5,000 and as much as $10,000 per child. As we struggle to continue to provide a quality program of education, parents in our community see that neighboring districts and charter schools are able to offer more of everything they want for their children. Without adequate funding, we are not able to compete.
Easthampton is a school district with heart. We have dedicated teachers, staff and administrators who give their all every day, under increasingly difficult conditions. But without adequate funding, our district will suffer tremendously. I urge you to provide increased funding and vote yes on Question 4.
The writer is a member of the Easthampton School Committee.