March 30, 2009

Hamilton-Wenham School Committee
775 Bay Road
Hamilton, MA 01982

Dear members of the Hamilton-Wenham School Committee:

As members of SOS, we have followed this year’s school budget process closely and have been genuinely impressed by your hard work and dedication. We commend you for your extraordinary efforts and leadership in these challenging times.

In our role as advocates for the schools, we also find ourselves serving as a sounding board for our community and feel compelled to share the comments we are hearing from our neighbors. Those comments include praise for the work you have done and further suggestions on additional changes you could make to positively impact the FY ’10 budget.

There is wide spread appreciation for the School Committee’s efforts to renegotiate with the teacher’s union, especially since this is a non-contract year. We hope that the teacher’s union will do its part and make meaningful concessions and recognize your limited impact to affect this change.

The new openness in the budget process has also been noticed and praised. The Finance committees in both towns have expressed their gratitude that the school budget was communicated clearly and with such a high level of detail.

However, the issue of any increase in administrative salaries in the District is causing universal concern on town boards and throughout our communities. At last week’s Wenham Fincom meeting, the Wenham Fincom expressed frustration that the District would consider administrative increases since other town employees, including contracted employees, will not have any COLA increases. Freezing salaries throughout the district could yield an estimated $100,000 in savings, an amount that would enable the District to save multiple teaching positions. Our community is heartbroken that our high school risks being downgraded to probation status. We must keep teaching positions to maintain even our current “warning” status.

The recession is hitting our towns hard. We have all felt jobs lost, salaries cut, and homes foreclosed. Given the universal economic suffering, the community cannot justify any increase in salaries and reluctantly ask your administrative team to forgo increases this year. We are speaking for hundreds of SOS members and school supporters when we make this request to freeze the administrative salaries. We believe that a wage freeze will show fiscal restraint and responsibility that will pay dividends well into the future.

Last year, Dr. McGrath showed leadership and self-sacrifice by refusing to consider a raise. We ask that the School Committee require other administrators to follow her lead. In a year of economic hardship, when we have already asked teachers to renegotiate their contract and are freezing salaries and reducing employees in other town departments, it’s the right thing to do.

Sincerely,

Deborah Evans
Sarah Gaylord
Nancy Peterson
Tri-Chairpersons, Support Our Schools

Leave a Reply