We are local clergy who have a concern over the proposed Pittsfield Public School budget. The almost $1 million difference between the funding for the budget proposed by school officials and the funding proposed by the mayor will further harm our public school system. The mayor’s funding proposal will not offset the loss of the $1.3 million federal stimulus money which expires this year.
The loss may not be obviously apparent to this community. However, it will harm our schools in subtle ways. Class room size at the high schools may increase to 35 students. Guidance departments at both Pittsfield High School and Taconic High School will lose secretarial staff, which will slow the departments’ capability to prepare transcripts and recommendations for students applying to colleges and universities. It will hinder our schools ability to meet the academic standards demanded of them by this community.
This difference may seem inconsequential in a $55 million budget. However, we should consider this in light of the losses our public schools have had to suffer over several years. Longtime residents, especially those who graduated from Pittsfield schools a generation ago or more, can remember a richer array of academic offerings. While over the years the demands upon our schools have increased, the budgets have not kept pace. As a result, our schools have had to make small cuts here and there in order to serve our students. Cumulatively though, budgets, such as proposed by the mayor, have diminished our public education system. These cuts will not kill our schools outright. They are, however, a slow death by a thousand cuts.
Public education is a justice issue. It is one of the fundamental building blocks for a healthy and vibrant community. A sound public education system is necessary to maintain the common good.
We strongly urge the mayor to reconsider his proposal.
REV. QUENTIN CHIN
REV. DR. JUDITH JENKINS KOHATSU
REV. DR. JAMES
Rev. Chin is from First Baptist Church; Rev. Huntington, South Congregational Church; Rev. Dr. Judith Jenkins Kohatsu; First United Methodist Church of Pittsfield; Rev. Dr. Lumsden, First Church, United Church of Christ.