Imagine that you are in elementary school again, you are younger, less experienced in the ways of the world, and, with a couple of exceptions, less intelligent. Your life has been comfortable and easy, getting picked up by the bus at a reasonable hour, and getting a relatively good education, but now that all might be about to change.
You might be about to lose your relatively good education, your bus coming at a reasonable hour, or your bus coming at all! All this is threatened by Massachusetts proposition 2 1/2, which makes it impossible (unless an override is passed) to raise taxes by more than roughly two-and-a-half % per year regardless of inflation.
The school budget needs 3.8 % of its proposed budget to come from an increase in taxes just to keep what it has now: to maintain the same programs and to keep all their teachers, so for those of you who work at the school, this could be goodbye.
The children at the school would lose other things, as well, if the override weren’t passed.
For instance, they could lose the Shakespeare program, or lose all of the money reserved for field trips, condemning the kids to endless bake sales if they ever wanted to go anywhere. But the worst of all is that any child, any age, within one-and-a-half miles of the school would have to walk to it. In case you can’t imagine what havoc this would cause, let me spell it out for you: picture a preschooler walking one-and-a-half miles to school in all weatherâ€” rain or shine.
Now this is an extreme picture of things, but I’m sure you get the general idea. Most parents would not subject their children to such torture, which poses another problem: parents driving their kids to school. This may not seem like such a horrible thing; after all, it seems like the perfect solution to the problem of having kids walk to school. But everything is not as it seems. You see, the street in front of the school is always packed because rushed parents dropping their kids off in front of the school have to double park. The situation is already hectic, and that is with the buses dropping kids off. Imagine what the scene would be like without these kids being driven by the buses. This would be especially dangerous because the children would be crossing the crowded street with cars rushing by.
The problems are not just restricted to the elementary school. The high school would have to cut either eight sports or make people pay a user fee of $100 for playing sports.
By now you are either asleep or wondering what the heck you have to do with this. Well, let us tell you: you must help us pass the override. You, as college students, are eligible to vote if you register, and imagine the difference you can make. There are roughly 2000 college students, a large portion of Williamstown’s population, and a powerful force in the hands that wield it, and I hope that you will vote in the pro-override column.
If the overide does not pass, the quality of education in the Williamstown schools will fall. Along with it, the town, which has been commended for its academic standards in the past, will lose its recognition. The next generation will be less capable of dealing with the town’s problems, and the town’s reputation as a center for the arts and education will fall. Whatever happens, it will not remain the same Williamstown that you have come to know.
If the override does not pass, then the town will lose the color that citizens have taken pride in for years. We are sure you understand the importance of education. This is your chance to play a part in other people’s learning. The Override vote is May 12th.
The writers are 6th graders at Williamstown Elementary School.