, Newburyport, MA


January 27, 2014

Focus on what's most important: school budget shortfall

To the editor:

We are writing this to the many Newburyport parents who have voiced their opposition to the new projected start/end times for the 2014-2015 school year. It has become clear that there are many of you out there who feel as though the superintendent and school principals made decisions regarding these new times without taking into consideration what’s best for our students. Though we know these changes may be difficult, we couldn’t disagree more.

As educators ourselves, we can tell you that teachers and principals work hard to make the best decisions possible for our kids. Every decision and thought is based upon what’s best for them, given each circumstance. As parents, we may not always agree with these decisions. However, we need to remember that at the end of the day, teachers and principals have done their best with the knowledge they have. They really do work tirelessly each day to ensure success and happiness for our kids.

We know these time changes may be difficult. Everyone is in similar situations and we, too, will have to iron out the details within our own families. However, instead of getting upset about the new times, why can’t we focus our energy on the fact that our school system is facing over a half a million dollar school budget deficit for next year? This, to us, is far more demanding of our attention than what times our schools start and end.

Take these facts into consideration:

Newburyport is below state average for the percent of city budget that goes to the schools. As of fiscal year 2012, 42.4 percent of the city budget was allocated to the schools, ranking us at 292 out of around 340 towns ... We are the lowest out of all our surrounding towns. The state average was a little higher than 50 percent.

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