Johanna Radding: Northampton schools chronically underfunded

Northampton City Hall

Northampton City Hall FILE PHOTO

Published: 06-19-2024 5:15 PM

I recently did a deep dive into 30 years of Gazette archives and article after article revealed a continual underfunding of Northampton public schools by our city leaders. For decades, mayors have balanced the budget on the backs of the schools while letters to the editor plea for the city to fund the schools, pay the teachers fairly, and to not cut positions for the sake of the children. Every one of these articles and letters could have been written during the current budget cycle. How many more generations will have to beg for more than scraps?

The schools are underfunded, they do not have a deficit. The “deficit” is a manufactured one. There is over $2 million in free cash available right now and more money in reserves, yet the mayor continues to choose to underfund our schools in the name of fiscal stability. A city that hoards money while choosing not to fully fund essential services, is neither fiscally stable nor fiscally responsible. The mayor warned this was coming, therefore, why didn’t she do more than warn? As mayor and chair of the School Committee she is the only one with the power fix this. Finger pointing and “I told you so” is not leadership. In a 2019 Gazette article she stated that she would be an advocate for the public schools and defend its budget. Where is this advocacy now? What is the mayor’s plan to address this so-called “deficit” and fix the school budget without incurring massive cuts that harm the children and educators within them? I do not think the mayor wants her legacy to be gutting our schools and harming the city’s youngest residents, yet here we are, that seems to be her only plan. Many alternative ideas and plans have been shared with her and our City Council. If members of the community can come up with better plans that level-service fund our schools, why can’t she? The schools do not have a deficit problem, the city has a leadership problem.

Johanna Radding


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