Ok... let's play this out. The Fall River School Department gets reviewed by the DESE. The findings are that although we're making progress we still have a long ways to go and there is some concern that we could slide backwards. The head of the DESE makes it a point to say he's disappointed that Fall River hasn't made more progress. Now none of this is old news, or ancient history. This is all recent, really recent.
So, Mayor Flanagan decides that instead of level funding the budget (which I have issues with to begin with) he's going to cut the school budget by 3.3 million.
Let's do a little math problem
Shaky progress+DESE skepticism-3.3 million = State Takeover
For the past several years we have patted ourselves on the back for level funding the school budget despite all the other financial obstacles the city has had to deal with. Great job! We LOVE education! We level funded!! OUR KIDS ARE IMPORTANT!
Except level funding basically making do with the same amount of money, it does not mean maintaining the same services. If you haven't gotten a raise lately you've been "level funding" your household budget. If you bring home $350 a week and the rent has gone up $50 a month and gas is now $4.00 a gallon, and the grocery bill is now consistently $30 a week higher you're STILL level funding your budget but you obviously can't afford the same services as before. THAT is what we've been doing with the school budget. We haven't technically cut the budget but we've given nothing to compensate for rising costs of materials, salaries, insurances, upkeep, and whatever else. The fact that we're making ANY forward progress in the school department says a lot about the work and dedication of our teachers but a 3.3 million dollar cut is going to be devastating.
Notice that the Mayor dropped this little bomb at the last possible minute? How long has he known? Is there really no other place to cut from? Education has to be the number 1 priority. A quality educational system is vitally important to Fall River. A well educated child is more likely to be a success and less likely to be a burden and drain on the system. People MOVE to communities that have quality educational systems. Companies locate to communities that have quality school systems. How much money have we wasted on legal fees? How much money have we spent on our legal department? It was supposed to be mean and lean and instead it's the envy of unemployed lawyers everywhere who insist they would and could do the work for much less.
I understand Fall River is in a really tough financial situation. I am sympathetic but if your solution is to cut 3.3 million from education you haven't worked hard enough on solving the problem, go back to your office and come back later!
Now the silver lining in this is that if the state does takeover they will FORCE the city to fund the school department. They have that power. This is great for education but bad for every other city department. The only person in Fall River who should be happy with Flanagan's incredibly stupid decision is Cathy Ann Viveiros who now had a very important campaign issue to run on. If she can come up with some workable ideas/solutions she will have the support of lots of parents, and lots of educators.