Penny Geis: We must educate our children AND maintain our infrastructure

  • Penny Geis, candidate for Northampton Ward 7 city councilor, speaks with the Gazette on Wednesday, April 10, 2019. STAFF FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Published: 5/21/2019 9:26:12 AM

Listening is the most important of my homework as I campaign for Ward 7 City Councilor — listening to neighbors, to teachers, to parents, to retired people. When I ask what people want from the city, the first thing most say is “Fix the potholes!” Teachers talk about the fact that we are paying them less than most other area towns. They are tired of it. Rightly so. I have grandchildren in the Northampton schools, and I am grateful for all their teachers do for them. I also live on a fixed retirement income and know what it is to worry about paying taxes.

There is no easy answer. I’ve pored over budgets, graphs and charts. I’ve researched comparative teacher salaries and been embarrassed to learn that Easthampton, Hadley, South Hadley, Williamsburg, and Amherst all pay more. It’s also true the school funding formulas reward Amherst for their large student population and punish Northampton for sending so many students to charter schools. Northampton gets significantly less state money per student than Amherst. The choice is ours. We can forget our schoolchildren and repair our roads. We can pay teachers a fair wage and continue to dodge potholes. We can protect our property values, our cars and our children by doing both. Caring for both schools and roads requires additional funding. There are three practical things we can do to get it.

Vote this November for a Prop 2 ½ override for money we can use in 2020. Support Sen. Comerford and Rep. Sabadosa in the fight to overhaul the school funding formula and to get the Millionaire’s Tax on the 2020 ballot. Vote in November 2020 for an additional 4 percent tax on income over $1 million. I know what it is to worry about paying taxes. And yet, I believe we must educate our children AND maintain our infrastructure. Not either/or. Both.  

Penny Geis
Leeds




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