Submitted by Michael Decerbo
At a time when one in five Bedford residents is out of work, some cuts to school funding may be necessary in order to avoid a tax increase, but I am dismayed to read that the proposed cuts include the elimination of the gifted and talented teacher and of third grade foreign language. Are the special needs of talented students somehow less important than those of other students? And in a world where being multilingual is more important than ever, has no one considered that the younger you start, the more success you are likely to have learning a foreign language?
Teachers and academics are the core of a school system, so any cuts necessary should be made to non-teaching positions, or to spending on needs that can be addressed outside the school system. For example, on June 7th Dr. Sills wrote that the school budget includes other new positions intended to meet “anticipated increases in emotional and mental health needs.” However, there are many places besides school for students to find emotional and mental support: among family and friends, in their place of worship, or from their mental health care provider. The core mission of the schools should remain education, and funding priorities should reflect this.
I urge the School Committee to reject the proposed budget and ensure that future budgets prioritize academics first.