With the New Year passed, a lot of you have been asking me about my intentions to stand for re-election to School Committee. It hasn’t even been a year since I was elected to a one year term on School Committee. But with time flying by, its time to ramp up and run again – this time for a full three year term. This is my official notice to the BloggingBelmont readership and the public:
Yes, I’m running for re-election!
It has been an eventful year on the Committee. When I came on board last April, the town and our nation were in the midst of a wrenching economic collapse and looking at huge decreases in tax revenues and state aid. Ultimately, a Federal stimulus package helped us avoid drastic cuts to Town and School services. I was proud to work with the rest of our Committee to complete a budget that had the School Department living within our means, but that maintained vital services. I was proud to stand as one of only two School Committee members to vote in favor of an additional allocation from the Town’s free cash to keep libraries open and functioning in our elementary schools. And I was overjoyed when, two months later, I and so many other Belmontonians dared to dream big about the future: marching to the polls to pass a debt exclusion to fund construction of a new Wellington Elementary School.
Alas, 2010 and planning for the FY 2011 budget will be an even bigger challenge than the year that passed. As you’ve likely read in the Globe, towns across the Bay State are facing steep cuts in services that could translate into teacher layoffs and larger class sizes without help from the the Federal government, the state, voters – or all three. Belmont is no different. If anything, our decision – as a town – to put off fixes to a large structural deficit when times were good, means that we entered this recession in a precarious position, fiscally.
What that all means is that we will need strong voices on the School Committee to stand with the administration in articulating the mission of our public schools, our vision for the future and the necessity to maintain financial support for our public schools, our exceptionally talented staff and our amazing students. I’m running so that I can be that voice, and I’m running so I can continue to work with an exceptional group of professionals, including our new Superintendent, George Entwistle, and my colleagues on School Committee.
As some of you may have read in today’s paper, School Committee could shape up to be a competitive race this year, and possibly one with competing visions for our schools. That’s become a rare phenomenon in recent years here in Belmont. I’m excited by the prospect of a full-throated debate about the challenges facing our town and schools and by the promise of serving Belmont for another term on School Committee! I’ll be hitting the streets with my clipboard to collect signatures in the coming day. Then, as now, I ask for your support.
Paul F. Roberts