Regarding recent articles and letters about school funding, I would like to add some thoughts. First of all, I would like to thank Ms. Karen Kevelson. If not for her comments at the Finance Committee meeting, we may not have made the effort to publicly applaud our schools’ amazing achievements and might, instead, continue to take for granted all the clever and hard work of the staff, administration, students, and community volunteers. We might, instead, continue to expect them to draw blood from a stone.
It is important to remember at this juncture that the current district strategic plan was a community-wide effort, in which all groups of stakeholders and many town officials participated via focus groups and committee meetings. The resulting document asks a lot of our schools. Now we have to support it.
This support will, in turn, benefit all groups of stakeholders. Certainly the children of the community will benefit first by having their academic needs met and their horizons expanded. However, the entire community directly benefits from having a sustainably strong school system. As we know, Marion has an aging population, many of whom rely on the notion that the value of their property will continue to appreciate. Since good schools are a “first-cut” requirement for young families choosing to buy a house, all homeowners have an interest in maintaining and improving the quality of our schools. In fact, Ted Crone, VP of Regional Economics for the Philadelphia Fed, wrote that “A large number of statistical studies support the common assumption that the differences in the quality of local schools are reflected in house prices.” (Business Review, Sept/Oct 1998) Our schools have done a remarkable job of increasing the quality of the education with essentially decreasing funds, but how long can we expect that to continue? At some point, they will not be able to keep this up and we all will suffer.
In watching the school budget process over the last many years, I feel the school administration has always been sensitive to and respectful of the financial constraints of the town. Cooperative partners. Now it is time for the Finance Committee, the town leadership, and all of us to show the schools the same consideration and adequately support them.
Heather Burke, Marion
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