Last year, in the fierce budget battle over education, Staples freshman JJ Mathewson emerged as a strong voice against cuts. This year’s debate has been less contentious — but JJ still has something to say.
He asked “06880” to share his thoughts with the town. JJ wrote:
As Westport struggles to create the town’s budget for the 2010-2011 year (the RTM meets on May 4), there is still one large area of contention: What will the state of education be?
Last year the public school budget was cut by 2%. Then an additional $1.4 million was cut by the RTM. As a result, the public schools have experienced increases in class sizes, and many cutting edge courses at Staples have been removed.
This year the Board of Finance proposed a $1 million cut. It was reduced to $500,000 after the Board of Education announced it would seek full restoration of the original $1 million. The Board of Ed still seeks full restoration, to avoid further cuts in the school programs next year.
If a $500,000 cut is allowed to pass, Westport schools will notice another increase in class size. The proposed budget is already bare, and staff shortages are likely.
In addition, over the past few years Staples has had a noticeable increase in enrollment. Because of higher enrollment next year, further budget cuts will have a significant impact on our schools. At greatest risk are courses that teach cutting-edge interdisciplinary skills and are not state mandated.
These potential changes threaten the quality of Westport’s education. Our school system is a pillar of our community, and important to attracting residents to our community. To contact your RTM members, click here.