Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Opinion

May 1, 2014

Teachers union leader bemoans staff cuts

Editor, Townsman:

As the president of the Andover Education Association, I am compelled to comment on the nature of the imposed $1.4 million reduction to the superintendent’s budget request. A school system is a human service endeavor that requires personnel to deliver that service to our children. That personnel costs are a significant portion of the budget should come as no surprise. However, this fact seems to have eluded some members of the Board of Selectman and Finance Committee based on the rhetoric I read in the papers and witness as an audience member at the Tri-Board hearings.

It is very true that employees expect to be paid and must be paid benefits as dictated by law at 20 hours a week. Budget reductions of this magnitude can only be attained by reducing personnel. There is no other line item that can bear that cut. Teachers were cut three years ago and most additions made since then are replacements as class sizes continue to grow. The current budget will reduce 40 full-time-equivalent assistants. This amounts to 63 people, many of whom are Andover residents, who will not be working with our children in the Andover schools.

Our instructional assistants play an invaluable role in our school community with a very modest remuneration, a role for which computer-driven instruction or surveillance cameras to monitor safety are poor substitutes for human interaction.

I ask the residents of Andover to evaluate the value of these cuts in personnel and urge the Board of Selectman and the Finance Committee to return to the table and engage in a transparent discussion of projected town revenues as Town Meeting approaches.

Kerry A. Costello

President

Andover Education Association

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