Opinion: Mattapoisett school budget increase is modest and vital

May 2, 2022

The Mattapoisett public schools serve 439 of our town’s children each day, children with a wide range of experiences, strengths, needs, and hopes. These schools and the work that happens within them represent the best of our town and the future it is charting for its citizens. 

They are vibrant and empirically successful hubs of our community, far from the “money pits” on a “feeding frenzy” portrayed by the Finance Committee during the budget process. 

We are urging residents of Mattapoisett to attend Town Meeting on May 9 and support the budget recommended by the School Committee. It has been disheartening to see the Finance Committee’s attempt to derail the funding that those elected to oversee our schools say is necessary to meet the needs of our students.

The School Committee’s budget poses a modest 1.7% increase from the previous year and was assembled with input from other town boards and decision makers by its duly-elected members. 

The ability to maintain services at a 1.7 percent increase while inflation has risen to roughly 7 percent is a testament to how hard the School Committee has already worked to responsibly allocate taxpayer funds. Investing in our schools is a Mattapoisett tradition that has long paid dividends to all Mattapoisett taxpayers in the form of consistently high property values. People  perceive our town as a high-quality place to live in large part because our schools have been inviting and successful places. 

After certifying nearly $2 million in free cash last fall and setting our property tax rate comfortably below our levy limit for consecutive years, it’s clear that Mattapoisett can continue its tradition of fiscally responsible leadership without making cuts to schools. With ongoing access to federal covid relief funds for both municipal and school uses, the town should not be cutting spending for the education that our students need and deserve.

Our students and their families are still coping with the impact of the pandemic, and our schools play a key role in supporting students emotionally and socially as well as academically.  Cutting the school budget simply will undermine that work and send the wrong message about Mattapoisett’s values and priorities. 

The concern about the cost of maintaining two elementary schools is a valid and prudent one, and that debate belongs outside of the work to establish this year’s school budget. None of the educators or children who enter these buildings each day had any say in a long-ago decision to build and support two campuses and cuts to the recommended budget would directly impact the schools’ ability to support the children of our town. 

We ask that the voters of Mattapoisett maintain their decades-long tradition of supporting our excellent public schools and vote for the budget that the School Committee recommends by attending Town Meeting on May 9. 

Marissa Hughes and Sara Jacobsen,

 Co-presidents, Mattapoisett Educators Association