Residents Offer School Funding Ideas
The suggestions came during Wednesday night's school budget public hearing.
Community members Wednesday night suggested addressing school funding issues through teacher salary cuts, ads on school buses and athletics uniforms, and fundraisers.
Some parents also commented on talk of a school transportation fee to raise a projected $240,000 in revenue.
The ideas came during the school committee’s budget public hearing.
The board voted to seek a budget of $42,694,208, a 3.07 percent increase, next year.
Residents spoke for about 30 minutes total. Chairman Ilyse Levine-Kanji said the board’s policy is to allow each speaker three minutes.
“It’s nice to see so many people here this evening,” she said.
Ruggles Street resident Steve Faris said he had “looked at the school budget for about six months, trying to figure out where the cost increases are coming from.”
“Many of them appear to be health care,” Faris said.
“I would like to see the teachers unions and others take a cut across the board. Because that’s what it’s going to take. You need a balance,” he said.
“My concern is that since we’re all in this together, we need to take a percentage off of everybody’s salary.”
Later, Vice Chairman Stephen Doret said the teachers “work just like you and I do, and have certain interests, just as we do.”
“Their real interest is in being teachers, and teaching. That’s what they want. My experience has been if we treat them fairly, they will respond,” he said.
McTaggart Street resident Tom McDermott suggested considering advertising on sides of buses, and school uniforms, “kind of thinking outside the box a little bit as far as how do we increase revenue without again reaching into the pockets of the citizens.”
Superintendent Marianne O’Connor said Westborough contracts out for school buses.
“We don’t own those buses,” she said.
“They’re not willing to allow us to advertise on them so we would have personal gain for the school system.”
Bowman Lane resident Richard Lambert said his niece is in an online high school, where “all their high school interaction is done online.”
O’Connor said Westborough has 75 seats in the Virtual High School, and “we’ve been a forerunner in the state as far as participation.”
“Our students are participating in online courses with people all over the world,” she said.
Blake Street resident Paula Less said that this past summer, she went to a concert in Dracut that raised money for that school district’s music and arts departments, which had been “cut almost completely out.”
“They raised enough money to reinstitute not for one year but for five years the math and music program within Dracut,” she said.
“I think with enough creative thinking of how can we find funds whether it be through fundraisers, bake sales – I don’t care where it comes from.”