I went to the educational funding forum at the Nock Middle School on last Wednesday night, sponsored by the task force which is looking at ways to fund our public schools.
Featuring an excellent presentation by Dr. Ralph Orlando which really helped to de-mystify the State's educational funding formula AKA Chapter 70 and active facilitation by Dick Sullivan Jr, the bottom line is that the City should not expect the State and Federal government to solve our educational funding crisis anytime soon.
You can find Dr. Orlando's presentation here and the Newburyport Current article here.
I believe all School Committee candidates were there. Current member and candidate Bruce Menin's thoughts on the forum are here.
"Wealth" (ie property values and income) in Newburyport was a point of discussion. And when you look at all the relevant state statistics (ie the State pulls all the property assessment data and they strip the numbers off our State income tax forms, so it's pretty accurate), it is true we are a wealthy community on AVERAGE and by MEDIAN.
But if I stuck my left foot in a bucket of ice water and I stuck my right foot in boiling hot water, on average I'd be feeling pretty good.
Look at it another way. The Red Sox were 3rd in the American League in runs scored in 2007, a very good offensive team. However, we still had our Julio Lugos and JD Drews bringing up the rear in the regular season.
So yes, we're a wealthy community when you look at the average and the median compared to the rest of Massachusetts. But when you ask those on the lower end of that average wealth to pay more in taxes when they're already tapped, you will hear them scream like they stuck a foot in boiling water.
I don't blame them. Elected officials (and those hoping to be elected officials) ought to take these constituents' needs into account and find ways for tax fairness while at the same time we try to prevent our schools from being decimated again next fiscal year.