LttE: Override Again

Hello People of Reading! I am a graduate of the RMHS Class of 2016 and I am very disheartened about the recent unavoidable cuts. Below is a letter to the Board of Selectmen that I hope some of you could sign if you support the proposal for a partial override. To sign the petition, click here.

Jo Donohue
Reading Resident


Board of Selectmen
Town Hall
16 Lowell Street
Reading, MA 01867
United States

Dear Board of Selectmen,

As a group of concerned citizens, including current and former students of the Reading Public School system, we have reaped the benefits of a “good” school. Every day we were able to depend on the consistent quality of our teachers, classrooms, and technology. We could rely on our teachers and administrators to be there for us when we needed them most. Despite household incomes and social differences, each student was able to complete assignments given tools from our forgiving district. We have not been forced to face the disadvantages of other districts. Here, drugs and pregnancy have been limited issues. Certainly drug usage has caused unthinkable and at times preventable tragedies in our community, they were shocking rather than a daily occurrence. Our teachers like John Fiore, have dedicated their personal time to combating these drug issues above and beyond of what was asked of him. We are incredibly lucky to be granted teachers that care for our well being and the well being of our district.

The Class of 2016 saw remarkable achievements for the Reading Public School district. Students going on to Ivy League Schools after multiple were accepted, 40% attending highly competitive colleges, and several arts students landing coveted positions at prestigious arts schools. In the next year, it is anticipated that more students will go onto colleges that are considered highly competitive. Reading has proven itself to be an excellent school district from its caring community to its successful graduates.

Unfortunately, after the failure of the most recent override, the quality and reputation of the Reading Public School district is in a state of decay. A budget meeting on Monday January 9th revealed the depth of our issues. Both middle schools cutting foreign language, except for the lucky few who get to take it as an elective, places our district far behind other schools. Surrounding districts start foreign language in 4th grade as this is when children can most easily adapt to a new language. This is a skill that makes students stand out in various ways. As a future college applicant, universities are looking for students with 3-4 years of language which may prove difficult to adhere to after a late exposure. These linguistic skills give students a step above in a job market as they are citizens of the world rather than merely their country.

As it stands college preps classes going out the window, classes that have aided students who need individualized attention. A choice has been made to ignore the bottom percentage of students. Instead of giving these individuals the attention they need, they are being cast aside. Likewise the role of Supervisor of Students has been nixed which proves a problem for any student attempting to re-enter the school after a medical or psychological leave. Those at the bottom are being cut loose when they should be protected. Students need consistency and flexibility when it comes to their education. Without room to grow and discover what they want, especially during the trying time of adolescence, these students are bound to fail in their future.

As the overseers of our town, these decisions certainly must have been hard to make. No one has the desire to disappoint and destroy opportunity for others. It is in no way easy to discern what should or should not be cut. We are not accusing the Board of Selectmen of being improper in judgement. This is no way a request to reinstate all these programs but rather give the citizens of Reading a realistic opportunity to support their school. While the fall override was supported by many young people, they are not the homeowners who face the burden of taxation. Reading’s homeowners want to live in a good school district but they do not want unreasonable tax hikes. For these reasons, we are imploring the Board of Selectmen to revise the override budget to solely reflect what is needed for the schools. The municipal works of Reading are important but do not hold the same significance to the present and the future.

We are proponents to the override but again, as it failed before it may fail again. In considering this impending issue, we are requesting that the Board of Selectmen make some financial considerations that may be unpleasant. Other communities make money for the town by charging for parking and other additional town fees. This is an unpleasant reality, but letting our schools suffer can come at no cost.

Someday, many of us will raise families and we will want to raise those families in a new community like Reading. A community in which our teachers are caring with concern, a community where administrators can focus on disciplinary issues rather than school budgets and angry parents. Without proper funding, there may not be a Reading to call home. Please consider what is on the line and focus on the schools that have built outstanding graduates.

Concerned Citizens

Editors Note: A full list of signatories to this letter is available online.

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