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Nerissa Nields: Proposed school cuts would have long-term impact

To the editor:

I just read through the most recent recommendations for budget cuts for the Northampton schools, and I am heartbroken. If our wonderful schools lose teachers, programs and services, they will not be as strong. Weakening our schools affects real estate, an issue that even folks who are out of the school-age demographic must care about. If our schools cease to be a draw, the values of our homes will fall. Educating our young people is a direct investment in the future of Northampton.

Of course, as a parent, I feel there’s no better use for our tax dollars. I am sure many feel the same, whether or not they have children in the public school system. But we have to talk to our friends and neighbors about this. I am hoping for another override.

I had the pleasure of attending Jackson Street School’s annual music assembly. I was moved to tears by the efforts of the music teacher, Kim O’Connell, the passion of the teachers who supported their students and the whole event.

I was struck by the strength of the principal, Gwen Agna, and the gorgeousness of the student body who sang a song written for the United Nations called “United,” bespeaking a multi-national, multi-ethnic world. The kids sang music from Ireland, India, Mexico and Ghana. At times, they were accompanied by a faculty ukulele band. Music is such a powerful force that unites a community like no other, and it breaks my heart to see potential cuts in music, arts and drama (to name a tiny few of these cuts) on the table at the middle school and high school level.

We must raise awareness about these cuts and speak up. This is our community; these are our kids. They will grow up, go out in the world and eventually run it themselves. We all want maximum love and nurturing for them during these crucial years. May they not be shoved into overcrowded classrooms and lose their arts and music and theater and physical education. My hope is our town is better than that.

Nerissa Nields


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