Over the last two weeks, our City has been traumatized, divided, and stressed as we all anxiously awaited the end result of the teacher contract dispute and the Newton Teachers Association strike. Now that the strike is over, agreement has been reached on contract provisions, and our students are back in school, it is time to take a deep breath and think about what we can do better next time.
There is general consensus that the Newton Public Schools have long been underfunded. LWVN supported the 2023 Override to sustainably increase school revenue, but it was rejected by voters. Lack of information, transparency and trust contributed to our city’s failure to pass this long-term solution. The current crisis has only exacerbated this challenge and made it eminently clear the urgency of identifying long-term sustainable funding sources to support our schools.
It is also clear that we need to address the lack of interest in campaigning for, and holding, public office in our City. The School Committee was a key participant in the recent contract negotiations. Newton’s School Committee consists of eight elected members and the Mayor. Of the current eight School Committee members, four were elected to office without a contested race. That means there were no campaigns, no debates, no discussion of issues or positions. Furthermore, last November’s election had no contested School Committee races, not one.
The time is now for us to reengage on the important issues of municipal finance and government transparency. The community is attentive, invested, and primed to take action. This is an opportunity for LWVN to take a leadership role to ensure that the path to securing the future health of our schools will be led with civil discourse and factual, non-partisan engagement.
Will you assist the League in our effort to inform and engage our community in hopes of rebuilding trust and transparency and creating consensus on important issues like sustainable funding for our schools?
LWVN is seeking your help as we work to…
- Educate the community and create transparency around municipal finance and the school budget process
- Bring diverse parties together to find creative solutions to the complex issue of school funding
- Provide training on advocacy and running for office
Please let us know how you’re willing to participate by completing our LWVN Member Engagement Opportunities form. We look forward to working with you on these important actions. Stay tuned for additional ways to get involved with the LWVN this year.