, Newburyport, MA


December 12, 2013

An idea to keep schools solvent

To the editor:

“Schools could see $700K deficit by end of year.”

History has a habit of repeating itself: The last time I remember seeing headlines like this was six years ago when our citizens rejected a tax override to bridge a budgetary shortfall. At that time I was discussing a number of initiatives with Kevin Lyons, then the superintendent of schools. Based on the facts that a one-time infusion of cash would not solve the problem and that over 1,000 voters cared enough to vote for an override to support the schools, I proposed the following course of action:

In order to provide immediate help and, at the same time to build up a cushion in anticipation of future crises, concerned citizens and others would be asked to make a pledge for a minimum of five years, the proceeds to be allocated as follows:

In year 1, 100 percent to the schools.

In year 2, 80 percent to the schools and 20 percent towards an endowment fund.

In year 3, 60 percent to the schools and 40 percent toward an endowment fund.

In year 4, 40 percent to the schools and 60 percent toward an endowment fund.

In year 5, 20 percent to the schools and 80 percent toward an endowment fund.

In subsequent years, 100 percent to the endowment fund except when the trustees donate money to the schools.

The fund should be managed by an organization independent of the NEF and the NEBC, so that donors would not be confused by the different missions of the organizations.

The last time I put forward this proposal, I was unable to find the right people to set up the scheme. I am hoping that I can inspire somebody to do so now.

Alan Papert


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