In a 6-8% inflationary environment, Superintendent Hunter and her team have presented a lean, “level service” 2024 budget for the K-8 Concord Public Schools (CPS) that includes a modest 4.7% increase. This budget has the support of the School Committee.
But the Finance Committee and the Select Board have rejected it, instead supporting an arbitrary 3.3 percent increase. While the recent focus on taxes and how to maintain a balance of affordability for all age groups in Concord is good, the CPS budget should be judged fairly and in the context of other town expenditures.
A benchmark in this regard is the second largest line item, the $34 million “Town Government” budget, which is increasing 8.67 percent in 2024. In this context, asking CPS to cut $600,000 to get down to just a 3.3 percent increase seems disproportionate and unreasonable.
Teachers will lose their jobs – like veteran educator John Peachey – who spoke at a recent FinCom hearing. Other educators on the cut list include a STEAM Lab coordinator, 2-4 tutors, a special ed coordinator, technology specialists and librarians.
Services like field trips, bussing within 2 miles and K-5 instrumental music would also be cut. Hearing kids line up to defend the importance of music in schools at a recent School Committee meeting was heartbreaking.
Please attend Town Meeting 1 p.m. Sunday April 30, and support Article 17. This is a lean, appropriate K-8 budget. Let’s work together to solve the fiscal challenges Concord faces across all fronts, but let’s not unfairly punish our teachers and kids in the process.