Parent Power in North Andover



 August, 2006

Parents of children in the North Andover school system revolted this past week and demanded that the School Committee get back to work.

While individual motivations varied, the common theme was that the schools were facing numerous challenges and the School Committee needed to provide leadership and guidance. Hundreds of e-mails flooded Committee members’ inboxes along with numerous phone calls.

On the very day that committeeman Tim Pybus announced in the Eagle-Tribune that no meetings would be held until September and “there’s no going back,” the committee relented and initiated plans for reconvening (see page 8). Power to the parents!

 After the July 10th Special Town Meeting resoundingly defeated the trash tax, four of the School Committee’s five members – with only Ormsby dissenting – decided that the proposed teacher cuts should not be reconsidered and that what remained was merely execution of the plan. But the customers disagreed and a revolt ensued. Any way you cut it, the schools will lose a substantial number of positions.

The question is whether health benefit savings from cut positions are fully recovered and whether some classroom teacher losses can be avoided by making alternative cuts. For seven months, the horrible consequences of cutting classroom teach-ers have been shouted from the rooftops: unacceptable class sizes, lost courses, multiple study halls, loss of high school accreditation, etc. Now these need to be weighed against the pain of alternative cuts.

No one is saying that those cuts don’t incur pain – that is not the issue. The issue is whether the pain from these alternate cuts is less than those listed above. Setting a meeting schedule is a start, but only a start. Parents need to keep up the pressure and make sure that the classroom is given top priority.