Rebecca Allen-Oleet: Public school cuts cause disproportionate harm

A crossing guard at Jackson Street School helps students and a parent cross the street in the downpour.

A crossing guard at Jackson Street School helps students and a parent cross the street in the downpour. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Published: 05-30-2024 4:08 PM

Modified: 05-30-2024 8:17 PM

The Northampton school district is close to my heart, both as a parent with a kindergartner and an employee of Jackson Street School. As a school psychologist, I witness each day the important work that school staff do to support the neediest of our students, and the overall stabilizing impact this has on all of the children who we educate.

Under the proposed cuts to meet the mayor’s budget requirements, Jackson Street alone stands to lose three classroom teachers next year, significantly increasing class sizes, as well as losing almost all of our staff who provide needed services to students, including our tiered support interventionist who teaches coping strategies and responds to emotionally dysregulated students, and our reading and math interventionists who both work with students falling behind grade-level expectations to help them catch up. This is essentially every staff member we have who provides extra help to our kiddos, outside of special education or English learner instruction.

These staff members are not extraneous — the work they do is essential to our school’s ability to keep our children safe and serve all students adequately and equitably. It pains me to imagine the harm that will be done when our students are not able to access needed supports at school; while families with resources may be able to enroll in private schools with smaller class sizes or hire tutors to help close that gap, families without will not, and this will serve to exacerbate inequities that already exist in our community.

Rebecca Allen-Oleet


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