Wait! Hear me out!
A year ago, as some of you may recall, there was a kerfuffle involving the teacher contract being negotiated by the Grafton Teacher’s Association and the school committee. Among other issues being debated, was the negotiated percentage increase in the cost of living adjustment (COLA) allocated in the agreement.
I took the position that the school committee’s offer of 2.4-2-2 (percentage increases over three years) was fair, and more than in keeping with our ability to pay. The GTA did not, but ultimately settled on COLA increases of 2.4-2-2-2 (adding another year at the end). In between the offer and the acceptance, some things were said.
My position all along was that I supported the Superintendent and the program he’s built. I thought calls for a vote of no confidence in his leadership were unfair, as I thought some on-line negotiation tactics (“#notmyschoolcommittee”) were over the top. We’re privileged in Grafton to have teachers, administrators and school committee members, to say nothing of the hundreds of volunteers, working every day to provide the best educational experience possible for our students. We’re better together.
Some people didn’t appreciate my position, and that’s fine. We don’t have to agree on everything. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But no one is entitled to their own facts. I took some umbrage when what I believed to be demonstrably false information was spread around town on social media about the proposed contract numbers, the budget, and the purpose of the 2014 override. Some of that bad information was, I have reason to believe, being pushed by certain people no longer in the positions they once held in the GTA or in its public relations effort. That’s a good thing.
Cheers also to GTA leadership for, this week, acknowledging that there is an on-going criminal investigation involving one of its former members for the alleged theft money from GTA accounts. I appreciate the transparency. That’s a private matter, so I’m not going to get into it, but in the future perhaps cooler heads will prevail, and we’ll all consider the sources of information lent our way.
In 2014, we stood at the brink of the gradual decline of our school system because Grafton no longer had the resources to continue to make a level investment in the program. When the time came, a group of citizen volunteers came together to campaign to keep the schools intact. We called ourselves YESGrafton, and I co-chaired that effort.
As we approach 2019, we stand at that same precipice. And I believe now, as I did then, that our schools are the cornerstone of our community. I believe now, as I did then, that teachers are saddled with too few resources to meet the number of students under your care. I believe now, as I did then, that sacrificing our future – and teacher jobs – to save money in the short term is not only short-sighted, but immoral.
Here’s what I didn’t know then that I do now: you guys are fantastic. When I led YESGrafton in 2014, only my daughter was in school, and I sort of took it as an article of faith that things would work out. Now I have three kids in Grafton schools, and you can’t imagine the overwhelming relief I feel knowing, not just hoping, that they’re in good hands. My kids are happy, healthy children who legitimately enjoy learning, and who can’t wait to tell me about their day when I get home.
You have my family’s back. I have yours. Education is now, as it has been, the cornerstone of this community, and will be so long as I’m involved. You’re appreciated by this community, and by me in particular.