LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Expresses ‘Extreme Concern’ over Superintendent’s Proposed Cuts to Reconcile Budget

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Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to the Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee when the author submitted it to WestfordCAT News.

As President of the Westford Education Association, I am reaching out on behalf of our membership (K-12 classroom teachers, Curriculum Coordinators, Teacher’s Assistants, Nurses, and Specialists) to express our extreme concern over the proposed cuts made necessary in order to reconcile Superintendent (Bill) Olsen’s fiscal 2020 School budget with the proposed allocation of funds from the town.

We acknowledge the very difficult decisions that come with limited financial resources, and we appreciate your continued efforts to provide the residents of Westford with the best possible services within those confines each year.

However, we feel now obligated on behalf of our students that we make our private concerns, public. The elimination of more than 20 staff members, including those in the Pre-First Program, Grade 1 and 2 Teachers Assistants, Reading Interventionists, and Elementary Digital Learning Specialists will have a significant negative impact on our students. We believe the impact of these cuts will be felt both in the short term, during the next school year, and in the long term when the reverberations will likely translate into a higher number of our students requiring a variety of required services due to the decreased early intervention options for our youngest learners.

In my 15 proud years as a teacher here in the Westford Public Schools I have greatly valued that this is a town where residents support their exemplary public school system. The number of students I see coming through Westford Academy where I teach is larger each year, and driving around our town the evidence of continued growth is hard to miss. That the system finds itself in this difficult situation just two years after residents voted at Town Meeting to support an override for competitive pay in the schools is disconcerting, especially given the nearly unparalleled return on each tax dollar spent on the Westford schools.

We respectfully call on you to do all within your authority to make available the funds required to reinstitute these essential personnel and services to Superintendent Olsen’s fiscal 2020 School Budget. — Mike Colson, President, Westford Education Association