At the Townsend Selectmen's meeting on September 25th, the selectmen were encouraged by the townspeople in attendance to place an override on the ballot to avoid cuts to town services. Some argued that during the last override the voters spoke loud and clear that they do not support ANY tax increase. Others argued that the lack of support for the school override was to send a message to the schools, but they would support an override for town services. My take on the "message to the schools" is that some taxpayers do not trust the adults in charge of the schools - this includes me, the rest of the school committee and the administration.
I believe this block of taxpayers would support educational funding, if they felt their tax dollars were being used wisely. I do not believe that they are against education and I do not believe they want the children of our town to suffer because of this lack of trust, but I do believe they felt defeating the override was the only way to be heard.
Personally, I need help understanding the message that was being sent. From my perspective, the school district has worked hard during this recession to minimize the impact on the towns and the taxpayers - doing everything we could to avoid an override. As a matter of fact, with the exception of this override, Townsend's school assessment has DECREASED each year during the recession.
These reductions were the result of significant cuts, reorganization and concessions within the school system. The override was presented this year because the district ran out of options to make up for funding shortfalls and increasing costs. I want to earn the taxpayers' trust. Please give me, the rest of the school committee and the administration the opportunity to understand the message being sent in more detail. I recognize how close this override vote was. There is a lot of work to be done within all three of our member communities to build trust. My hope is that the adults can all work together so the kids receive the education they need and that all members of our communities receive the services they need.
The school district is striving to develop a stronger working relationship with the leadership in our three towns. We also want to develop a better relationship with the public. To help accomplish this, we are planning community forums to open the lines of communication with all community members.
Please frequent the district website (www.nmrsd.org) throughout the year for postings of upcoming forums. We also welcome invitations from community groups. If any group is interested in hosting a conversation with district officials, please contact the central office at 987-597-8713 ext. 1200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chairwoman NMRSD School Committee
and Townsend resident