Dear Newton South Community:
While much of the override discussion has focused on the changes at the elementary school level, the Newton South School Council believes that these overrides are vitally important for high school students as well. We encourage all past, current and future Newton South families to vote yes on all three questions.
In recent years, the high schools have experienced decreases in staffing levels even as the school population has risen. In 2011, Newton Public Schools drastically cut staffing levels at Newton South, causing a substantial decrease in breadth of programming and an increase in class sizes throughout the school. The School Council was pleased that Newton South saw increased funding in 2012, but recognized that this was directly in proportion to the increase in students in the school. This meant that there was no return to earlier levels of either breadth of programming or class sizes—but the situation did not worsen.
The proposed operating override, for $8.4 million, means an increase in the number of teachers at both high schools: to be specific, 12 additional teaching positions to be shared across both schools. As in 2012, this number is directly proportional to the expected increase in student population, meaning that the current staff to student ratio will continue. Without this increase in staff, Newton South students will experience even more overcrowded classes and even fewer course options. This is why the School Council believes that the passage of the operating override is essential to maintain the quality of education we currently have and not slide any further.
The two debt-exclusion overrides are important and relevant to the high school community as well. Today’s Angier and Cabot elementary school students will be tomorrow’s high school students. It is in everyone’s best interests to provide the best classroom environment we can to assist learning and teaching so that future students will be well-prepared for high school. In addition, supporting both debt exclusion overrides gives Newton access to state funds, reducing the direct cost of the two buildings to Newton residents.
We recognize that this poses an additional financial burden on Newton families. However, after consideration of the current situation in our high schools as well as our future needs, the Newton South School Council urges all voters to vote yes on all three proposed overrides on March 12.
Newton South School Council
Ryan Augusta and Sue Flicop, co-chairs