Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


January 29, 2009

Chairwoman to feds: Time to deliver on education

School Committee Chairwoman Debra Rahmin Silberstein recently mailed a letter to Andover's federal legislators asking for "bold action" from U.S. Congress for local funding, specifically to the schools.

The letter, mailed last week to Sens. John Kerry and Edward Kennedy and Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, asked for support of President Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

"It is about time the federal legislators deliver on obligations to the children in this country (which they have legislated), by funding IDEA and NCLB (No Child Left Behind), as promised," Silberstein wrote in an e-mail to the Townsman. "The proposals in the Recovery and Reinvestment Plan allow for much needed short term stimulus and then future recovery by investing in education of our children. Based on some preliminary numbers I have seen from the state it could mean an additional $1,063,600 in 2009 and $956,000 in 2010, for a total of $2,019,600 to Andover."

IDEA, which ensures services to children with disabilities nationwide, governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services. More than 6.5 million Americans with disabilities are eligible, from infants to age 21.

Silberstein collected signatures from parents, Selectman Ted Teichert and other School Committee members to add to the letter. It was mailed Friday, Jan. 23, Silberstein said.

Dear Senator Kennedy, Senator Kerry and Representative Tsongas,

It is time for bold action for you to ensure that President Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan be big and smart.

Deep cuts to state aid to education are looming.

Andover, like other communities throughout Massachusetts, is in crisis mode, facing a dismal financial picture for 2010. We anticipate a $3.5 million shortfall, which could mean upwards of sixty (60) layoffs, elimination or severe curtailment of programs such as art, music, and athletics, and substantial fee increases to parents. Over the last few years our schools have taken progressive actions and developed cutting edge programs to position our students for 21st century skills and the global market place. It is critical that we continue our support of these initiatives.

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