, Newburyport, MA


June 2, 2014

A choice to make in Amesbury

To the editor:

When I was in high school, almost 50 years ago at NHS, Newburyport was not a rich community and my family was poorer than most. It was much as Amesbury is today. Nevertheless, no one expected parents to pay a fee for sports, let alone clubs. We had four foreign languages, shop classes, and business classes, as well the usual academics. Rarely did I have a class of over 30 students. Somehow, despite our poverty, we managed to support the children of the community.

Today I live and work in Amesbury, a great community, except that some people seem to have forgotten their responsibility to community children. What we have for the next school year is definitely not a level-services program. I was pleased to see that the high school is likely to get the early college program back and that the only full-time music teacher was not cut.

However, we have two foreign language teachers to service over 600 students, which is likely to make it difficult or impossible for any student to major in languages in college. The tech ed teacher’s position was eliminated, so students who need more hands-on courses are out of luck. Meanwhile, the typical math class has 30 students or more.

Class size does matter. The library is partly manned by volunteers. If the librarian is ill, there is no library use. This is just at the high school.

Those who complain about their taxes ignore the many fees parents are now paying. These are essentially a tax on parents, so while some may pay lower taxes, others are paying more. One might think that it would take a big tax increase to properly fund the schools. Actually, it averages out to about $39 a person to restore this year’s cuts. It seems likely that people’s property values will decrease far more than that as the schools get worse and worse.

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