On the front page of the April 24th Townsman, we read the article, “School cuts target teacher aides” and were moved that the “proposed budget remedy brings staff to tears.” Clearly these staff members are deeply committed to their work and the children they work with.
This article certainly highlights the difficulties many people encounter when their needs exceed resources available, and hard choices are not far behind. Who doesn’t want to provide quality services for all school children ... but at what cost or personal price for citizens in the town, who also may have needs that exceed resources available, especially as real estate taxes climb higher and higher every year. How many lifelong residents now must leave “home” because escalating Andover taxes make “staying” a financial impossibility?
When I read about the autistic child Zoe Porter has a relationship with or when I hear about a 20-something vet returning home, but without her legs and not enough money for prosthetic care, or thousands of homeless, helpless animals euthanized in shelters every year, it is the same theme over and over: legitimate and important needs exceeding available resources. For many, this is just an endless reality.
Yet, somehow, it seems that this reality of needs exceeding resources traditionally has not applied to the Andover School Department (and other public-sector town departments); it’s just not a reality they have to or should have to deal with. There seems to be some fantastical myth that Andover citizens have endless amounts of money that they are happy to pay out in taxes ... just forget about the 20-something vet and the thousands of euthanized animals.
The bottom line, and a hard line to swallow, is there is no endless supply of money in Andover or in many other cities and towns across this nation. While the plight of children with important needs, the hundreds of permanently wounded veterans and the thousands of euthanized homeless animals all bring tears to my eyes, the hard truth is there is still not endless money no matter how compelling the need.
Thank God someone in Andover realizes this, and has had the courage to deal with this reality and make a very hard choice.
Jane Axelrod and Roy Dobbelaar
Note: Address withheld at writers’ request