To the Editor:

I support the school reconfiguration possibility that will be voted on by the School Board soon. I believe it saves significant tax dollars that can be, and in my opinion should be, reinvested in Educational Intervention. I believe this is a win for all.

There are those who call for delay, while students miss out. There are some who want the savings alone. There are some who say let’s spend $3Million more (at an annual cost of $1000 per Newton household) and get the intervention while not changing our configuration.

A year ago, the School Board hired NESDEC to study the future for Sanborn. Our enrollment, with a decrease of 18% over the past ten years, will continue to decline at an accelerated pace, they found.

The results show that we are cash-poor and facilities-burdened.

One big challenge we have is our four operating school buildings. The Middle School costs over $500K per year. It also needs investment in upgrades of $1.6Million. If the Middle School building is not needed, could the money be used better?

The study identified ways to reconfigure the District to have class sizes of 18-20 students, in the elementary grades. In recent years, we have had classrooms ranging from 13 to 25 students. Reconfiguring the schools will allow more consistent class sizing and more teacher teamwork.

Another big gain is freeing up dollars (about $1.5 Million) much of which can be reinvested in Early Intervention, for which the Superintendent has advocated consistently. Reconfiguring the schools will enable that investment without tax increases.

Why do I care? Why not just reduce the budget by the $1.5Million and continue as we are, without intervention?

I don’t have children in school right now.

Here are my reasons for support:

1. Our taxes need continued restraint, while other towns catch up with us. This plan has no to very low tax growth.

2. I feel it is our moral responsibility to provide the highest level of education possible within the community’s ability to pay. Students should have their educational needs met, at all levels including advanced learners.

3. Quality schools with improving and measurable outcomes for students increases the desirability, and consequently the property values, of the community. For many, our homes are one of our biggest investments. Protecting and building value helps all of us.

Results for students at Sanborn have fallen short of the state and other developed nations. Yet we have been paying a lot more ($22,000 total per student!) than comparable communities.

I helped start NKTA to work toward informing voters to make decisions for the highest quality of education at the most affordable and sustainable costs. Better bang for the buck.

That means holding the line on budget increases, while improving educational outcomes. We’ve been doing that for the past five years. This school reconfiguration possibility is in line with that mission. Personally, I hope the School Board and the community will support it.

Annie Collyer

Newton

 

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