Wednesday, March 21, 2007

TEXT: Sally White casts disssenting vote on MGRHS budget

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- Here is the written statement provided by Mount Greylock Regional High School member Sally White by which she explained her decision to vote against the district's fiscal 2008 budget adopted by the school committee on Tuesday night:

Mr. Chairman, I have been a member of the School Committee since 2002 and seen the steady erosion of our budgets over five budget cycles.

This year, as in the past, the administration has diligently devoted many, many hours trying to find ways to solve the problem of matching inadequate funds to the needs of educating the children of our communities. Many departments of the school, including the administration, have been cut. The School Committee has weighed the options presented to it. Much time and care has gone into analyzing every aspect of the operation of our school.

But this budget does not meet the school's needs now or for the future. We must take a stand and adopt a budget which meets those needs.

If public education is a hallmark of our democracy, then let us stand up and bpeak up and say, as citizens, that we care about public education, that we care about our children, and that we will pay to provide an education, a good education, for each and every one of them.

I am certain that, unless changes are made starting now, future students will be deprived of the education that they deserve and for which they are entitled. Mt. Greylock will no longer be known for its excellence and for the richness that it offers it students, but for its large class sizes, its reduced choices in electives and other pinch-penny options that future students will face because the adults who live in their communities will not support adequate public secondary education.

These students are watching multi-million-dollar buildings being constructed and multi-million-dollar homes being bought and sold in their communities, yet they fear that they might not be able to take a foreign language, or participate in a school play, not because our communities are too poor to fund public
education, but because the taxpayers are not being told what the real costs of doing so are.

Will our comfortable citizens feel contented living in pleasant, scenic surroundings while local children attend a Spartan high school that offers limited academic choices and extracurricular activities? Is that the kind of mmunity we want to be?

I doubt that any member of this Committee truly believes that the budget presented tonight is adequate for our students. It will be said that the towns will not support any increase in taxes required to provide for what we need. I say, let informed taxpayers decide -- we should not decide in advance.

It is our duty to be forthright, and to tell our communities that Mt. Greylock needs more money, an amount to provide an education worthy of our towns and of our children.

If this requires an override, then let us seek one.

Anything less will not meet our responsibilities as elected representatives of the people and as spokesmen for the students of our District. The interests of these children are what the School Committee must strongly and vocally advocate to the taxpayers.

Mr. Chairman, I am unable to support the proposed budget and will vote against it.

Sarah B. White
Member Mount Greylock Regional School Committee


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