Many new residents move to Groton for the school system. The quality of our education system is linked to our reputation as a great place to live. If we want growth, including new business and successful neighbors, then we want Groton to have an outstanding reputation, and this brings us full circle to maintaining a superb school district. Children only get one chance at an education. We cannot afford to let them down; we cannot afford to damage their future. The Groton community owes it to our children to deliver this education at the highest levels, with the most enrichment possible.
My policy has always been and will continue to be that our community wants to give the best education possible to Groton’s children. Just as important is the policy that our community wants to keep its residents, especially those on fixed incomes, here, in their homes. Nobody should ever be taxed out of their residences.
We elect a School Committee to oversee the district, advocate for the kids, and maintain the highest education possible within the budgetary limits of what our town and Dunstable can afford. A member of the Board of Selectmen has no statutory authority over what happens in the District; responsibilities by law are entirely separate.
So what can a selectman do about Groton-Dunstable Regional School District? Quite a bit.
There must be a constant dialogue between the Groton Board of Selectmen, district officials and administrators, and the Dunstable Board of Selectmen to work together to establish guidelines for growth and sustainable taxes. There shouldn’t be any surprises in a budget item so large and so complex, and so well managed. As partners, we clearly understand that it’s property taxes funding the majority of the combined budget — municipal and education. If we keep this fundamental awareness, balancing the needs of residents for all services (especially streets, safety and education), the team can work together to protect Groton’s fiscal and academic future.
Ultimately, the school funding problem lies in the low contribution the state makes to our community for the education of our children. I will, as a member of the Board of Selectmen, join with other members to consistently petition the state, requesting that our representatives on Beacon Hill fix the funding models so that they don’t force communities like ours into override territory every few years.
The numbers this year aren’t as dire as people might believe, and education spending isn’t necessarily a problem. When you actually run the numbers analysis, the problem is exposed — our federal income tax money and state income/sales tax money isn’t funding our local requirements at an adequate level in our beautiful town.
Moving forward, I will explore the possibility of holding municipal spending at current levels for a few years. Perhaps we have to make some cuts, and figure out what we can live without, or what can be automated. The bottom line is that there is a fundamental and mutual partnership between the Groton-Dunstable School District and the Town of Groton, and both must draw from one pool of funds.
To manage this will require a constant awareness of the challenges facing our town and the schools.
If elected, I commit to making policy decisions with twin goals of streamlining the delivery of required services and balancing the needs of all residents.