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Rachel Murphy: I hope all residents of Bartlett will take issues seriously

To the editor:
I am very concerned about the future of education in the town of Bartlett. I have attended a few school board meetings over the past year, and the discussions that take place are disturbing. There are people in this town requesting that the school board make drastic staff cuts and significant reductions to the school budget. The proposed budget that will be voted on at the Annual School District Meeting reflects a reduction in staff and an overall school budget that is down almost $175,000. If the proposed budget passes, there will be no increase in education taxes for any property owner in the town of Bartlett. I can not understand why we are even having a discussion about cutting staff and taking money away from the school, when our taxes will decrease.
It also seems, that at many of the school board meetings someone feels the need to mention class size. I really would like to stress that a classroom today, can not be compared to a classroom when many of us were in school. According to the Department of Education, in 1970, only 1 in 5 children with disabilities were provided access to education. The United States Congress, enacted the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (PL94-142) in 1975. This act required all public schools to provide equal access education to handicapped students. This law has been revised through the years and is currently called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  In general, the term `child with a disability’ means a child: with mental retardation, hearing impairments, speech or language impairments, visual impairments, serious emotional disturbance, orthopedic impairments, autism, traumatic brain injury, other health impairments, or specific learning disabilities; and any other individual requiring special education and related services. I would encourage every voter in Bartlett to understand that classrooms today, are filled with children that have various special needs. Many of these children wouldn’t even be allowed in a school building in the 1960’s. It takes a team of individuals to assist in educating many of these children. It enrages me to hear comparisons to classrooms from many years ago, because the learning environment is completely different and has evolved to meet the needs of all students.
At the school board meeting in February, it was stated that there will be a request to reduce the budget by $600,000 at the Annual School Board meeting. I have a difficult time understanding the reasoning behind this request. The school is producing successful students, the cost of running the school is down, and the staff has been reduced as a result of lower student enrollment. If the school is running successfully, I can not fathom why anyone would decide to diminish the funding by such a drastic amount. I completely understand and sympathize with those people in our community that have limited incomes, but if the proposed budget doesn’t increase taxes why would anyone choose to take money away from the school?
The annual school district is on March 5. If you are a voter in the town of the Bartlett I encourage you to attend this meeting to hear the discussions. I hope all residents in the town of Bartlett will take these issues seriously and realize the impact on the future of education at the Josiah Bartlett School.
Rachel Murphy
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