“It was frustrating this year, it was frustrating last year, and it will be again next year if we don’t make some sort of change,” Ferguson said. “I sat down with the superintendent and the assistant superintendent and went line by line over the budget for two hours and what we found was that the increase in the cost of special education this year over last year was $440,000. That is where our $330,000 got absorbed.
“I believe that every child deserves a good education,” she said. “I believe that special education students need a good education, that gifted students need a good education, regular, across-the-board students need a good education and we shouldn’t take away from one group to fund another group.”
Ferguson also vowed to spend the next two years of her term working on unfunded mandates with the state and asked that concerned residents not email, but rather call, their state representatives and voice their concerns.
“That is really an issue that myself and many others on the City Council have been talking about for a long time and I think it is finally beginning to take traction with the public in general. Not only with us in Amesbury but I think across the state,” McMilleon said.
“The public needs to be lobbying their senators and their local representatives to set better priorities at the state level and also to fully fund special education and any other mandated programs that they put out there because the localities only have the property taxes as the basis for their revenue.
“That is where we get 80 percent of our revenue,” he added. “The property tax cannot be continued to be used as supplying those resources that are needed to provide those services on the local level. We need some relief.”