Our Schools and the Truth About Senior Tax Relief

As long as SPS committee members use their position of influence to help elect ideologically pure candidates to various town offices, our schools will suffer.

The town school committees flexed their muscle in last week's election with a last-minute email campaigns touting the subject line “Our Schools and the Truth About Senior Tax Relief.” The email, authored by Sudbury School Committee member Lisa Gutch, said:

“To protect our schools, we must vote to re-elect Larry O'Brien.”

The emailed continued with:

“Based on what he has written and spoken, Mr. DePompei, if elected, will advocate for budgeting that would create a significant negative impact on our schools …”

On Mr. DePompei’s Senior Tax Relief proposal, the email concludes:

“He failed to mention that his proposal, if enacted, would be a direct hit to the School and Town budgets.”

The issue I have with this committee member's approach, besides accuracy of the claims, is that while fear mongering of parents may drive turnout, it also ultimately pushes other voting blocks against you. As a school committee official, she needs all the votes she can to get budgets passed. Remember last year's failed override?

Unfortunately, as we keep seeing, while the town Democratic Party can pack Lavenders and Town Meeting, they have trouble turning out voters for passing an override. 

Until the school committee's start to embrace a more diverse representation of the town on their committees while also taking a longer term view about their actions during elections, forming a town wide coalition for school support will continue to be difficult. 

Susan Iuliano’s posting last week about how difficult it is to get candidates to run was especially enlightening in this respect. I would argue her problem is not getting candidates to run, her problem is finding candidates with the same ideological orientation as the current board. Plenty of candidates have run for office, they just don’t agree with the current committee’s lack of progress on consolidation and giving administrators raises during tough economic times.

As long as SPS committee members use their position of influence to help elect ideologically pure candidates to various town offices, they will prevent the formation of a town wide coalition for school support. Their actions drive a wedge into the town electorate. Their ideology blinds them from seeing the damage they are doing to their own cause.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

JON999 April 05, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Bryan makes a sound case but the issue of senior tax relief/impact on schools is probably more complex than would seem. Probably not fair to Ms. Gutch to indict her without more information and her side of the story. In any case, I believe a Special Cmte is being formed to review.
Pat Brown April 06, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Actually, the Special Committee is being formed to review H.3435: the House Bill for Senior Tax Relief in Sudbury based upon Article 2 passed at Sudbury Special Town Meeting in January of 2011. H.3435 is the enabling legislation required for the proposed changes put forth in Article 2. I infer from the Selectmen's announcement that the committee would look at the implementation details of this proposal. http://www.town.sudbury.ma.us/departments/BoardOfSelectmen/news3777/ The proposed alternative was doubling the senior circuit breaker property tax credit by providing a town match, which has the advantage of not requiring enabling legislation. Wayland adopted such a provision in 2001. The Special Committee will not consider a provision like Wayland's; its implementation is straightforward. In any event, I'd like to see the basis upon which senior property tax relief "would be a direct hit to school and town budgets." I hope further details are forthcoming.
concerned2 June 07, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Yes, we need to keep seniors in town but we also need to realize that in these economic times overrides are going to be necessary to keep the schools just status quo. If you read Scott Carpenter's presentation to the town mtg from early May, it is absolutely frightening. I certainly don't want my kids having to endure class sizes of 38! Something has to be done, and NOW. If not, everyone will begin to leave town in droves for better school values. And this, in turn, will affect everyone's property values. We must find a solution. Otherwise, schools here are just resting on their laurels from the past.
2Labs June 07, 2012 at 02:48 PM
If we are truly debating whether to "keep seniors in this town", then we need to look at ourselves. Fair taxes are a separate and perhaps conflicting agenda with any ire toward seniors in this town. Fairness is something everyone agrees on, and fairness doesnt always mean a 50/50 split. However, we as the middle agers cannot sacrifice our elderly to feed our young. The equation is uncivilized. We as a community need to watch over both. Separate the issues. I wish some moral authority, such as someone from the clergy, or the AARP would address this timeless issue and keep us from losing our integrity to our anger as we crunch difficult numbers. After hearing that several senior teachers are being pushed out of our schools, I see a very ugly pattern emerging. I hope it is cleaned up before the kids see it, because if they accept it as our culture, then in a few years they will be debating, "should we keep seniors in this town? " And the seniors will be US.
Kirsten Vandijk June 07, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Concerned2, As I approach my 50th birthday I can look back to my educational experience and see one clear fact--class sizes then were in the 35-40 range and it was never a concern for us students who sat in alphabetical order in rows without necessitating assistant teachers. Discipline is, I believe, the difference between today's students and those of another generation. Classrooms were all the same and the same level of responsible behaviour was expected of every student. I am honestly surprised at what I am told happens and often goes ignored in the schools' classrooms. I studied history in the same hallowed halls that Robert Frost taught in and the less than up to the minute latest in technology was non-existent yet I and the majority of the other students managed to graduate and many with honors. I realize that I am not typical of my peer group when I do not believe that small class size creates better students. I believe a well disciplined-at-home child that brings his /her respectful attitude to the classroom will not need such a small student/teacher ratio to succeed. His or her disciplined and respectful approach will make a wonderful addition to a classroom, no matter what the size. Without the need to keep students 'in line" and "behaving" the teacher can systematically do what he or she is paid to do--teach. Not baby sit or correct inappropriate behaviour but TEACH. And the teacher can do it without a laptop and with a crayon! I'll be quiet now.


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