It’s no surprise to anyone that our schools are in need of support. Relief is not in sight. The current round of cuts will leave the proposed school budget with an almost $1 million deficit. This means no new programs or services, as well as a potential loss of jobs. Constant budget cuts over the years have left school personnel strapped. While the problem may seem overwhelming, there are ways that the community can help. There are a few areas where volunteers are needed to help support our school system. Superintendent Scott Holcomb laid out a few of the areas that the school district needs help from the community:
There are two types of grants, Entitlement and Competitive. The school department would benefit from volunteers in the community willing to take on finding and writing competitive grants for North Attleboro schools. This is an opportunity which could offer some financial benefit if the grant writer is to write themselves in as a grant manager. If the grant is awarded, the writer may be paid to manage the grant. The amount would vary depending on the amount of work necessary.
Most grants will require assistance from district personnel to supply the knowledge needed to write the grants, but volunteers taking on most of the leg work would be an enormous benefit to our school district if we are able to secure grants to help improve our schools.
Alumni and Advancement Department
Superintendent Holcomb recently met with Tim Sullivan, the new president of Bishop Feehan High School, and discussed a highly successful fundraising department that exists at BFHS. There are a large number of alumni donating large sums of money to the school which is benefiting the quality of the school in many ways. Holcomb believes our existing North Attleboro High School Alumni Association would benefit from a group of volunteers working with the Association to use the model being employed at BFHS and apply it to NAHS alumni. We have a large number of highly successful North graduates, many of whom continue to live in town, who may be willing to give back to the school system that they grew up in. The district needs volunteers willing to work with the NAHS alumni association and take this project on.
Though our School Department continues to face additional budget cuts, there are still many wonderful things happening in our schools. It’s important that the community hears about them. While we have had many struggles, we’ve also had many successes. A PR team is needed to organize positive school related activities and issues, then present it to the community in a well-designed and easy to access way, either through print, social media, email campaigns, etc. It can be a double edged sword because, on one hand, it’s important the community understands the financial needs our schools continue to have. But, on the other hand, it’s important we not just focus on the negative. Positive information needs to be spread to the community because some really great things ARE happening!
Other Ways to Help
It’s important for parents to let town leaders know how we feel about the current state of affairs. Do you feel our schools need help? Contact each Selectman on the Board and write to Finance Committee members. The Leadership team can only fight so much for our schools. It takes a community to get the message out to its decision makers. Our town needs to focus on our school system. Poor schools don’t only hurt our children. Poor schools negatively impact our entire community. We can’t be silent any longer.
April 5th School Committee Meeting
Superintendent Holcomb touched on the upcoming School Committee meeting and his discussion regarding the budget. It is not good news. At the current time of this meeting, four departments are going to be funded at less of a rate this year than last. There is a $1.2 million gap in the School Department budget. There will be more cuts and more lost jobs. Holcomb has been looking at some unconventional solutions to get financial support for our schools, but these solutions are temporary. For a more successful and more permanent solution, our town needs an operational override.
Holcomb strongly believes North Attleboro needs an operational override for all town departments to overcome their financial difficulties. Selectmen, Finn Comm members, heads of town departments, and the Town Manager all agreed in 2014 that North Attleboro needed an override. The School Department told the community how dire the situation was. Yet, it did not pass at the polls. As a direct result, an elementary school was taken off line, an administrator and teachers lost jobs and 900 students were redistricted. Tri-County saw the highest spike of enrollments from North Attleboro in our history as a town. Thankfully, an operational override is once again back on the table as Town Manager Michael Gallagher recently told all department heads that the ONLY solution to the financial difficulties facing North Attleboro is a Proposition 2 1/2 override.
Thursday, April 27th
Dr. Rice Conference Room