Shrewsbury residents urge selectmen to consider override

By K.B. Sherman, Contributing Writer

Shrewsbury – An energized crowd filled all the seats and left many people standing against the wall and listening from the hallway at the March 12 meeting of the Shrewsbury Board of Selectmen.

Maurice DePalo, the chair of the Board of Selectmen, started the meeting by restating that the town does not have enough money to fulfill all the expenditures in the School Committee's requested budget for fiscal year (FY) 2014. Twenty people then stood in succession to address the board and the assembled voters, most ?urging the selectmen to put a Proposition 2-? override vote on the warrant for the 2014 spring Town Meeting. Few comments were heard advising against such an override vote.

The override proponents were principally concerned about what they perceive as an inadequate school budget for FY 2014. Specifically, they repeated the claim that a class size of 30 students was unworkable, failed to teach students, and was resulting in students not coming to class. Ancillary to that concern was the alleged cancellation of many well-received electives, from band to art to auto repair shop. The speakers reiterated these points, adding that the loss of what they had seen as good schools canceled a primary reason they had moved to Shrewsbury while raising a family. They also claimed that fire and police protection had been compromised by budget shortfalls, endangering their safety. Several speakers alluded to what they saw as an ancillary problem begot by larger class sizes: that violent and other disruptive students had to be blended into regular classes, making learning impossible and resulting in some students being afraid to go to school in such “dangerous circumstances.”

Lauren Mitsis, 46 Wachusett Drive, standing with her mother and grandmother, pled with the selectmen to save the town they loved and in which the family had lived for generations. Mitsis noted that with the loss of former retail store Spag's and other local businesses, it was important that the board find other money and urged them to put a Proposition 2-? override on the 2014 Town Meeting spring meeting ballot.

Amy Coskie, 2 Blackthorn Rd., then rose to state her feelings of disappointment at what she saw as the town refusing to properly fund the schools as well as the Fire and Police departments. No, she said, the only solution was a tax increase through a Proposition 2-? override, claiming that Shrewsbury is 310 out of 351 Massachusetts towns and cities (as a percent of the budget) in its support for its schools. Further, she noted, the town pays its teachers too little and that both her husband and their daughters want higher taxes for the schools and fire and police protection.

John Lukach, 4 Bunker Hill Rd. addressed the board with a lengthy list of comments. He said that the “budget crisis” had been foreseen in 2008; at that time the school department “had refused do anything” to head off the current situation. School salaries are up 89 percent ?in just the past several years, he said, with unsustainable 10 percent a year raises. ?He also asserted that the truth had not been told regarding either “staffing numbers or costs for years.”? Salaries, he said, were the “biggest, ?most out-of-control part” of the funding shortfall.

DePalo thanked all for coming and noted that the discussion would be input for officials when considering the 2014 Annual Town Meeting warrant.


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Posted by on Mar 18 2013. Filed under Byline Stories, Shrewsbury, This Just In. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

4 Comments for “Shrewsbury residents urge selectmen to consider override”

  1. We need a Prop 2 1/2 override. As a student in the SHS school system we feel the crunch of the Shrewsbury budget every year. There are more and more students in class rooms. When I was in kindergarden there were about 18 kids in a single classroom with a full time classroom aid. Now there a 30 kids in every class with teachers paying for their own paper, Expo markers, pencils and classroom supplies because the school system cannot provide these critical items to them. Desks are added into the back of crowded rooms and students with disabilities are overlooked and failing students left behind. The saddening part is that there are multiple classrooms that are empty and have no classes that are in them since teachers have retired and no additional teacher has replaced them. Please consider a Prop 2 1/2 override so my younger siblings can have a quality education and not be left behind as so many students are getting now.

  2. Matthew Kaestner

    Here is my take on it, all you ever here is how we need higher taxes, People already have a hard enough time paying for things now with the current taxes we have. You don’t need a Prop 2 and a half you need selectman and other Politicians to learn how to budget the money. When I was in school we had large classrooms and we dealt with it just fine. And as far as people saying that there is violent kids in the class and their kids are afraid to go to School, well welcome to the real world. Grow up and learn how to deal with issues in life. The bible says we are all gonna face challenges comming at us from all directions. Maybe since all the Rich people with 5 to 10 kids want higher taxes then why don’t you pay for it. You seem to be the ones that want life to be safe and simple. No matter where you go there will always be a problem person that loves to cause fear. Tell your kids to stand up to them and the bullying will stop. And as far as budgets for public safety well we must have money in the town somewhere seeing police and fire equip looks very new and the highway Dept get new 65,000 dollar dump trucks and Selco seems to be ok so the schools should have money too if the town finance people learn how to budget the money. That’s where the issues are. The budget dept needs to learn how to not waste money.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  3. I was misquoted a bit in this article and would like to clarify my comments. My comment about teacher salaries was to rebut one of John Lukach’s previous claims that teachers make too much money. I did not say teachers are paid too little – I said “Some people think we pay we pay our teachers too much. The fact is that we pay our teachers less than the neighboring towns do. Westboro, Northboro, Southboro, W. Boylston, and Worcester all pay their teachers (on average) more than Shrewsbury does. It goes without saying that if we want the best teachers we need to offer competitive compensation.” I think the teacher salaries in this town are fine. But we need more of them – meaning more teachers!

    I also didn’t say a prop 2 1/2 is the only solution – but it’s certainly the most obvious one.

  4. A 2.5 override is a start, but it won’t make us flush, and it certainly won’t put us in a position to save for the future. We’ve been carving a little here and trimming a little there for so long that we’re in a deep hole. Will an override even cover this year’s shortage? With costs rising much more than 2.5% a year, what will we do next year? I agree that we should be paying more in taxes, and I would support an override, but I also think it’s a quick bandage, and it won’t stop the bleeding long-term. We should have approved a 2.5 override years ago (and we came within a very few votes of doing so) so that we’d be in a better position now, although I still think we’d be seeing shortfalls. And I think the BOS has dug in their heels and been stubborn on the issue. “The people have spoken.” Well it’s a new year, and I think you need to check the pulse more frequently.

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