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Kenneth Hahn: City budget shortfall demands tough decisions

To the editor:

The school superintendent’s decision to address the looming budget shortfall by proposing districtwide cuts strikes me as our very own version of sequestration. Now, who among us believes that was a good idea?

It’s time for the mayor, the superintendent and the School Committee to make some tough choices and exercise some leadership. Deal with the reality that our city’s elementary schools need restructuring while high school classes are way over-enrolled. Stop delaying a decision on school start times, and either tell us they won’t be changing or pick a plan.

While it is a bitter pill to swallow, closing one of the four elementary schools is way overdue, and with one of the four elementary principals retiring this year, now is the time. It’s the job of our leaders to look at the big picture, consider all students in kindergarten through Grade 12, and prioritize in a time of limited resources. I understand that people don’t want to lose a neighborhood school, but do they want that at the price of their child’s attending class with more than 30 other kids when she gets to the high school? Do they want their son to go to a school devoid of the arts? Enough is enough.

Personally I would willingly accept a property tax override to support the schools if I knew the money would be spent wisely. I have every confidence that the administrators running each school would do that, which is why in my case I would love the option of giving money directly to the high school.

Short of that option, I’m calling on the leadership of the city and the district to make some tough decisions for a change, and with that as a backdrop, ask the people of Northampton to fund our schools.

Kenneth Hahn


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