Barbara Black: Council should support the mayor’s budget

Northampton City Hall

Northampton City Hall STAFF FILE PHOTO

Published: 06-17-2024 6:04 PM

Modified: 06-17-2024 7:45 PM

I am writing in support of Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra’s budget proposal and urge the City Council to approve it at their next meeting. I appreciate that the mayor has increased school funding from the original proposed 4% to 8% over last year’s spending, and Smith College is also providing funding, but as a community, we cannot afford to increase school funding by more than that amount this year.

I have worked and advocated for Northampton’s children and their families for the past 45 years as a parent, a community member, an early educator, and as an Northampton public school employee. I am well aware of the fact that, in addition to the schools, the city provides other vital services that support those children and their families. This includes police, fire, health, public works and community care.

Each of those city departments have a 2.5% cap on spending in the FY25 budget. Again, while I am thrilled that the mayor has been able to increase school funding by 8%, and find the potential cuts to the current level of services in the schools painful, I know that the mayor has a solid understanding of the needs of our entire community: educational, health, safety, environmental, and financial, and is doing her best to meet everyone’s needs.

As we are all aware, this squeeze on local education and other funding is not unique to Northampton but the result of federal priorities. These priorities and the resulting shortages of needed funding pit our vulnerable groups against each other. We need to unite in pressing for additional state and federal funding. Massachusetts ranks in the top five states in K-12 public education spending and in the bottom five for federal education funding. If Northampton received even slightly more of the federal taxes we are all paying, we would not be to be having this conversation.

Barbara Black