Friday, March 7, 2003
CCHS students concerned about budget cuts
Concord-Carlisle High School seniors Bruce Lerner, Schuyler Viering, and Louisa Slocum presented their concerns regarding the proposed 2003-2004 budget cuts to the regional school committee (RSC) on February 11.
Lerner explained that metal shop, woodworking, and other hands-on courses have been moving out of the high school experience. "We feel that since there have already been cuts, there's not a wide range of classes," he said. With no exposure to workshop classes, he felt Concord-Carlisle students have a "different attitude to those professions," a narrow outlook on professions that call for manual labor. "And it's ridiculous that sports is being cancelled," he continued.
Agreeing with the students' concerns, committee chair Betsy Bilodeau explained the budget process and how school services are placed on the "cut list." "Unfortunately," she said, "between the levy limit and the level- services budget there's a real big gap. We have a tough number of months ahead. We looked at what could possibly be on the list. We can't do without math or English."
"We live in a wealthy place; why is it a big issue?" Lerner asked. "Yes, median incomes are high in Concord and Carlisle," Bilodeau responded, "but not all have the same income." She said the board wants the towns to understand why it is important to support the school and the extracurricular activities.
"It's a difficult issue to address," committee member Lauren Walters said. "Compared to other towns, this is an affluent town. [But] there are a range of people; some are older and don't have much income." Increasing taxes would be a burden on some of the population, he explained. "There are many students and adults who feel we shouldn't be talking cuts, but instead how to make public school better," he said. "Good point on hands-on classes," he continued. "We used to have auto shop, woodworking when I went to school. If we can't touch and do things with our hands, we don't have an understanding of those skills. They are great."
Persuade the community
Our challenge together, Walters explained, is to advocate for the school, to persuade the community to support the high school. He encouraged the students to become involved in the effort to educate the public about the needs of the school.
"We have to weigh all the issues," committee member Rebecca Shannon said, "including asking the town to pay for more parking spaces." The students had given the committee a report on a successful parking space lottery system, and had expressed hope that more parking spaces would be funded by the town.
"A lot of students don't realize how the school works, but will be affected by the cuts," Lerner said. "If students get out to encourage votes, that would help," responded Walters. "There are a lot of eighteen-year-old students who can vote," Lerner said. "You have to bug them and the adults to get out and vote," Walters concluded.
© 2003 The