Robert Cardimino, left, and music teacher Chris Caproni were talking outside Drury High School. Cardimino said at the meeting that if the teachers voted to return the one percent raise in their contract, he'd support the override.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Three Drury High School students spoke up for their education on Tuesday night, pleading with voters not to slash school programs to balance the budget.
"I want to leave knowing I can come back here and have a place to be proud of," said Andrew Varuzzo of North Adams, who will be attending Holy Cross in the fall. "I would hate to see this community, this school die a slow death because we could not pass this bill."
The senior and classmates Evan Schueckler and Luke Sisto addressed about a 100 people in the Drury High School auditorium at the second of six planned public sessions on a $1.2 million Proposition 2 1/2 override that city officials say is critical to saving services and school programs.
Schueckler, of Stamford, Vt., is going to Harvard, but hoped to return to the city "to do great things," but not if he wasn't assured his own children would get the same education he received.
Varuzzo said he planned to register to vote on Wednesday "solely for the purpose of voting yes for a Proposition 2 1/2."
Their statements were greeted with applause from an audience that seemed weighted by parents and educators. It was a far cry from last week's City Council meeting, when opponents of the proposal railed at Mayor Richard Alcombright to cut services and use the city's meager reserves to plug a $1 million hole in the fiscal 2012 budget.
"There were more people with different points of view," said the mayor after the 90-minute session. "It felt better to listen a little more.
Friday, June 10, Drury High School
Monday, June 13, Greylock Elementary
Wednesday, June 15, Drury High School
Friday, June 17, Greylock Elementary
All presentations begin at 7 p.m.
Alcombright is trying to get the timbre of voters who will be asked on June 21 to raise the city's levy limit to fund a $35.7 million budget, some $15.6 million of which is the school budget. An override would add another $230 on the property tax bill for an average home valued at $134,500.
On Tuesday, the mayor repeated much of the presentation he made last week, noting the city has lost more than $3 million in annual state aid since the economic crisis in 2008 and has burned through most of its reserves.
The city had more than $1 million in free cash in 2008 but the account is now at about $165,000. Most of the funds in the land sale account have been used to offset cuts, although the city is hoping to replenish some of that with the sales of about 60 lots this month and some lands it owns outside its borders.
Alcombright said the much talked about $900,000 in school choice funds will be used to retain special education programs for the next two years, with a $100,000 held out as buffer for other special ed needs. But the failure of the override would mean deep cuts in staff and programs, including drama, music and arts.
At least 100 people attended Tuesday's session and more than a dozen, mostly educators, spoke in favor of the override. Drury Principal Amy Meehan wore an oversized T-shirt that said 'Support Our Students.'
"This are things that we discussed that could possibly be cut if the override doesn't pass," he said, adding that any of the programs slashed might not be reinstated for years. "Some people say I'm threatening .. this is no threat, this is reality."
Patricia Wall took the mayor to task for waiting too long to bring options to citizens. She said she would have supported a $600,000 override for the school system but that city should look at raising fees and other measures.
"Unfortunately, the ballots are all printed, this is it. It's black and white when we go to vote," she said. "There should have been more options; it was realy not fair to do it this way."
More than a dozen people spoke on the issue, most with links to the school system including Superintendent James Montepare. Former School Committee member Ronald Superneau recalled how Proposition 2 1/2, when it passed in 1980, had devastated the school system and how it had taken the city years to recover.
"I don't like taxes ... but I don't want to see any of this stuff gone," he said.
But Louis Chalifoux, who spoke against the override last week, said citizens are already being taxed every which way.
"The only tax that any of us have any control over is Proposition 2 1/2. Now why in the world would anybody vote to increase your own taxes when in fact you have the opportunity and the right to control the city's budget," he said to applause. "And that's the key — the buck stops here."
Robert Cardimino, another vociferous opponent of the override, found himself stating he'd support it after music teacher Christopher Caproni, former president of the teachers' union, pledged to vote to give back his one percent raise for next year at the union's Thursday meeting.
"If you do forgo your raises I will vote yes for this proposition," he said, then complained Caproni didn't live in North Adams.
Sisto, the final speaker and president of the Drury Drama Team, said the cuts would "slash the spirit of our school."
"We students are an investment in the future," he said. "Are we not worth $20 a month? For all property owners, are we not worth that extra $20 a month?"
The session was broadcast on Northern Berkshire Community Television. The city's draft budget can be found here and the override presentation here.
NorthAdams.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
It's time for some North Adams residents to wake up and smell the State cuts! If you all want quality services, quality education, and a continued quality of life...it's now time to pay a little for it. Sate cuts did this, mismanagement in years past did this, and rising costs of everything did this, not Dick Alcombright or the students and youth of this city. Why are they the ones that have to pay the price, and shoulder the blame? It's time to pay for decent services and quality education, just like EVERYONE else in the state does. Pay up, or shut up when roads can't be fixed, crime goes up due to cut police forces, and your kids are home driving you crazy because all school programs, and sports have been cut!Most of you that are against it, no longer have school aged children...Selfish thinkers. For once, think of the real reason this is happening. This is the state's fault due to MASSIVE cuts.....no one else bears the blame. You anti 21/2'ers are selfish, complainers. Shame on you for holding your hands out, and throwing blame at all the wrong places! Selfish selfish selfish...I'm not mad, just disappointed! only $20........selfish!
Dick Alcombright has proposed the cuts that people will fear most in order to get us to vote for the over ride. He calls it a "one time fix" - not so. An over ride is here to stay. It will become a permanent increase in our taxes. Also, the over ride is in addition to taxing us to the limit now allowed by law, so the increase he claims is being voted on is in addition to another to the limit tax increase like the one we saw last year. Vote against the over ride. The mayor and city counsel will be forced to look for cuts they haven't considered.
People are just sick of fees, new taxes and thought of more on top of it. Unfortunately people want to see some cuts to fire and police, not to the school period. Show some effort on that end and people might be willing to pay a few extra bucks but until then, stop adding jobs and pay raises.
John I could not disagree with you more. Why can other areas not be cut. I have looked at the budget in detail and there are many areas that could be cut in order to come up with the $1.2 million. Building Inspector area, Cemetary fund, Council on Aging, Highway Department, some cuts from the library (reduced hours), to name a few. We are in this position because we rely on the government too much. This has to stop. How about using some community serivce hours to cut grass at the cemetary, and work at the library, etc. How about those on welfare volunteer to work a little and get off their behinds.
I agree that students are worth $20 per month, the problem being every year another $20 if even more will be added. When it's up to a $100 a month in a few years, then will you say the same thing? Vote no! There is no expiration date on this!
Every year gas, oil, insurance, food, building supplies, sand and salt, health and medical and general costs increase for the city. How do people expect the city to pay higher costs when the budget is already running a deficit without increasing the taxes. More cuts? Most departments are 30-50% smaller then they were years ago. That doesn't save when paying huge amounts of overtime due to small staffs. The population may be smaller but we don't have less roads, pipes, street lights, crime or a shorter school days. All that means is there are less of us to pool our money together to pay for what we have. Study the figures across the state and you will find even with the override North Adams will have one of the lowest tax rates in the state. Most cities and towns learned long ago that they couldn't survive off of state hand outs and low taxes. It's not easy to accept but we need to learn that too.
Correct me if I am wrong. The override allows for a one time adjustment to balance city expenditures against what the city brings in for taxes and income. It's the same as a restaurant making an adjustment to menu prices to keep up with the cost of food and expenses. If they were losing 65 cents on a hamburger they need to adjust the prices to cover the cost. That doesn't mean they will increase the cost 65 cents every year. Once it's adjusted the increases per year are less to keep it balanced. Why 65 cents? That's what it will cost the average home per day for the override. A family of four would equal 16 cents per person. An apartment house with ten tenants will pay 6 cents a day per person. We are talking pennies per day to keep the services we have. The other side is saying make cuts. Our hamburger is small as is. The prop 2 1/2 critics will be the first to shout "wheres the beef?" when services get cut.
Editor: You are correct. The override would be a one-time adjustment of the levy limit; after that, the city would be able to raise 2.5 percent a year based on that limit and any new growth. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
I want the teachers and the rest of the unions in the city to freeze their wages for a three year period. I want them to increase their contribution for medical insurance by 5%. Why, because thats what I have done to save my job. I ask no more of them then I have been asked to do. If they do this there will be no need for cuts in services or programs. The Mayor and Council are cowards! Defeat this override and have the Mayor go back to the teachers and tell them how they can save their jobs and not cut programs. My guess is they will not be so willing to pay the extra money they want us to pay.
And so it starts... it's "only" $20 per month, it's "only" 65-cents per day... pretty soon we'll get the "it's like paying for a cup of coffee" argument. Here's the issue, Drury students, I pay taxes, I am now taxed at what's called the levy LIMIT, meaning under state law I am taxed at the maximum allowable amount based on the tax base of our city - what the homes we own are worth collectively. In the past year I have seen my taxes go up, my water rate go up significantly, and a new sewer user fee on top of that. Add it all up and I'm "only" paying another $600 a year, which means $50 a month, not $20. Now you want me to pay that "only" $20 more, which would mean in the course of a year and a half, I will "only" be paying an extra $70 a month. That's a credit card payment, or a grocery order (albeit a small one these days) or two small tanks of gas so I can get to work to earn that money you "only" want. I have paid enough. Vote NO on this override.
You want them to freeze their wages becuase that's what happened to you? Does that mean when you get a raise, a new job with better pay and more benifits you will be pushing for them to receive the same. Doubt it. When the economy was good I didn't see non-city employed protesters out there demanding public workers get more pay.
"Every year gas, oil, insurance, food, building supplies, sand and salt, health and medical and general costs increase for the city. How do people expect the city to pay higher costs when the budget is already running a deficit without increasing the taxes."
Thank you for making the exact argument why this override should fail. You seem to think that all of those expenses you mention go up for the city, but not for taxpayers at home. My electric bill has gone up, my grocery bill has jumped by a lot in recent months, my gasoline bill is huge now, my home heating oil bill is gigantic. Unlike the city, which has seen increases in taxes and fees in the past year, otherwise known as an increase in revenue, I have not had a pay raise since 2008. I've had to make cuts at home because of my own funding deficit, including cutting cable, buying the no-name groceries and only when on sale, carpooling with a friend to work, and I still can't make ends meet. Now I'm supposed to pay another tax increase and watch the teachers and other city workers get raises? No... way!
"freeze" stated, "I want the teachers and the rest of the unions in the city to freeze their wages for a three year period. I want them to increase their contribution for medical insurance by 5%. Why, because thats what I have done to save my job. I ask no more of them then I have been asked to do. If they do this there will be no need for cuts in services or programs."
Please do not make comments without backing them up. Do your math and prove that what you said is correct. If they are correct, then we can make up our minds, BASED UPON THE FACTS.
The mayor provided you with viable figures. You can at least do the same.
Making comments without backing them up with the proper research is irresponsible. You should be ashamed of this thoughtful act.
No one is using scare tactics. Someone in favor of the override said if the override does not pass and kids have nothing to do after school , they will GET GUNS AND ROB US IN OUR HOMES. The mayor didn't say a word. If this is not a scare tatic what is ???? What a surprise that so many people that spoke in favor of the override are on the city payroll. Nice try mayor be no one was fooled . VOTE NO !!! Stop the out of controled spending !!!!!
Editor: A supporter said statistics show that children who are not occupied get in trouble and used the example of vandalizing a home. Someone else who appeared to be AGAINST the override raised the gun issue, claiming it was a threat. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
Funny, even without the internet, my friends and I never managed to get into trouble. Seems that parenting needs to improve. And fyi, the kids that would get into trouble, would not participate in after school programs, and are not worth worrying about.
i think the mayor is back dooring the taxpayers of north adams , so he is able to give raises to the unions that supported him.....with that said i am against the vote, but it what cost?....the children of north adams deserve the best possible education, with that being said i most likely will vote yes even though i can not afford more taxes
And you walked to school uphill both ways...
To make a statement like -those are the kids not worth worrying about- makes me sad for you. What a narrow world you must live in- those are the kids you should worry about...come on!
The North Adams Schools have one of the lowest wage scales in the entire state. We constantly loose teachers to other communities simply because we pay thousands of dollars less than other schools. We will always have trouble attracting and keeping great teachers if we cannot even pay an average wage. People keep asking the teachers to give back their 1% raise even though that raise STILL does not put them even close to surrounding communities.
And before anyone asks... no I'm not a teacher, and I'm not married to one. I'm not in a union nor have I really ever been partial to them. And yes... I own a home in North Adams and am a taxpayer.
I have also done my homework. This simply needs to pass. It's up to us.
Budget shortfalls are happening on all levels (Federal, state and city) as a result of the financial crisis. Voters everywhere, who have not been taught civics in the curriculum for the last 40 years and think the money comes from somewhere else, will need to decide if anything is worth supporting.
What happens when a kid falls through the cracks? Maybe they robs your house. Maybe they are your health aide taking care of you in old age and give you a bad dosage of medicine because they can't read directions properly. We are all connected.
Everyone will need to sacrifice, including teachers, but the NA teachers have been sacrificing for 20 years so give them a break.
funny, I had great teachers in the 80's. Never complained. Let me guess you are not a city native. I bet North Adams comes out stronger when we over-taxed defeat this and make cuts for programs that should never have been implemented at taxpayer expense.
That is fine with me. I am a teacher that loves her job...I love the kids I teach...and I already got my pink slip. Give back my raise......freeze my raises for 3 years...Don't care. I want my kids in Sept. I want my job!!! Lots of people think teaching is like any other job...it is not a job it is a LIFE for many...PLEASE don't take my life away from me.
I am a teacher....a teacher that has already received her pink slip. I love my job, I work hard, my job doesn't stop at 2:30. It continues into the night, on weekends and all summer long. Give back my 1%...fine. Who cares. I became a teacher and have 60,000 in student loans because I NEED to teach. I love to teach. Say what you want. I just want to be rehired. :o(
You may be "taxed enough" and you may think those that support the override are "bleeding hearts" but if this doesn't pass, the city will feel the impact for YEARS and YEARS to come. This is our chance to better the future of our city. If we don't make the right move now, we will be the reason our city continues to decline. The choice is ours and ours alone. Not the students, not the teachers, not the unions, but ours...as taxpaying citizens of North Adams. I want to see our city grow. I want to see families move into our city. I want to know my children are getting a quality education. It is time for the residents of North Adams to wake up and see the reality of our situation. Bad management has brought us into this position and bad decisions will keep us in this position. "Be the change you want to see in the world" and do the right thing. VOTE YES to save our beautiful city.
I see you are a Barrett basher. People said this about north adams after Sprague's left....didn't happen. As far as quality education, it's called school choice. And I doubt we will feel it for years to come. In college it does not matter if you had A.P. History or Honors, or college prep for that matter. How about we cut the mayor's salary?
One way to save money is to close the transitional program at Johnson, give them a room at Drury High School. Besides the students should not be a school with young children. In addition, students need to take responsibility for the behavior along with the parents. The district would save money on bussing them too. Another idea is to cut the number of van drivers in the district for the schools. I always see them driving around empty during school hours not near times of dismissal or arrival of school either. Also why do I sometimes see them parked in front of convenient stores with high school kids??? Is this what are taxes are paying for?? In the end it is the children who are going to suffer. If the district does go through all these cuts, I bet there will be an increase of students using school choice and go outside the district.
I also think one of our biggest problems in the city is all the low-income people or ones who don't work are moving here. They are taking funded money from children who were born in this city.
"There were more people with different points of view," said the mayor after the 90-minute session. "It felt better to listen a little more."
This is exactly what I can't stand about the current administration. It was brought into power with the promise that the days of a single voice deciding all were gone, and yet the Mayor now says that it was a lot easier for him to listen to those who want the override, while completely ignoring those who oppose it. Does this mean he really doesn't care about the opinions of those who cannot afford this? That's what it sounds like. These meetings are a sham. I voted for this man. Not again. Boucher, announce your candidacy.
Editor: The mayor will not decide the override; voters will. He's just there to answer questions at this point. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
Whiners, and cheapskates...North Adams has one of the lowest tax and fee rates in the state...BY FAR...and still would after 2.5,...4.5....5.5...8.5..14.5...and so on! It's time the whiners stop whining and pay for what they've become so used to, so cheaply it's silly, and deal with it. I bet any amount of money none of you realize this, or the situation we're in due to the State, and former mismanagement at all and just like to complain, whine, and talk about things you truly have no clue about at all.... No one really seems to care at all about North Adams, it's families, kids, schools ...nothing but your little lives (which come cheaper than anywhere I know within Massachusetts)....SELFISH and you should all be ashamed of yourselves!
Alex you have excellant ideas! Community service to cut city grass and cemetaries would save money or make welfare reciepts do the same and ones who have kids in school volunteer in the school kitchens or something.
I keep hearing teachers in N.A. are under paid so I went to a web page to see how well our schools match up with others. Please go to Local School Directoy.com. The mayor keeps telling us how cheep our taxes are ?? If that is true , why are so many homes are for sale at bargan prices. Perhaps people thinking about moving to the area went to the above web site. Underpaid you decided.
Listen people, Carl Jenkins at right when he said "we're not asking for more money to more things, were asking you to keep things the same." The truth is, even if the override passes the district will loose up to 8 full time employees. so roughly each school will loose two employees each, but that is only core instructors. Other programs will take a hit, but will survive. If the override fails, there still the 8 full time instructor positions, another 8 at Community Transition Program, 1 from the Steeples program, 1 Librarian, 1 Career Specialist, 2 Art teachers (district wide) the entire, yes ENTIRE drama program (about 2-3 employees)and 1 for the Juvenile Resource Program. Total it up you get a loss of 23-24 jobs. That doesn't include, Special Education, Teaching Assistants and One-on-One aides. Classrooms will at a maximum capacity. The students that need accommodations will struggle, teachers will be overwhelmed with with frustration, MCAS scores will drop and NAPS will loose Chapter 70 money. So...
It comes down to this, do you want your children to have the same kind of quality education available to them as it was to you? If your not afraid to make a tough decision so that the children will continue to benefit from what NAPS has to ofter, then please, vote in favor of the override. If your a coward who is only thinking of yourself and is not willing to sacrifice for someone else, then you will be responsible for telling little Johnny and Suzie that they can't play sports because you don't have the $200 for them to play, because you didn't want to put $20 extra on your taxes a year.
Your so out of touch. This City was managed well for 26 years and it got through some very difficult times. Just look what has happened since the fun loving guy got into the Mayor\'s office. Do you think it is good management to give out pay raises that will add hundreds of thousands to the city budget just three months before you ask for an override? Do you think it is good management to lay off teachers while keeping a Director of Tourism? Do you think it is good management to start the Mayor\'s secretary $8000 more then the first step calls for? Do you think it is good management to borrow $150,000 for camp ground improvements and then say you don\'t have enough money to mow the parks. People not doing their homework and buying into Dick Alcombright propaganda like they bought into bs when he ran for Mayor. Look back at all his unkept promisises of two years ago and now he expects the people to trust him. His policies and decisions will put this city right back where it was when Sprague closed their doors. Of course we can also place the blame on those five City Councilors who voted to put the question on the ballot before they even voted on a budget. I just hope that this Mayor is sent a loud and clear message with this override vote. You do what you have to and I just hope there are more of us then there are of you, if not North Adams will be in a real mess soon!
Will we ever get to see the school budget? I mean the real budget, broken down by position. From the Superintendent right on down to the greeter at Greylock School. If I'm going to vote YES on a Prop. 2 1/2 override I need to see the whole picture. I've seen the General Government from the Administrative Officer to Wire & Alarm. Now lets take a close look at the School Department.
Mr Cardimino wants to be a city councilor or already thinks he is and can't do simple math. Numbers less then all his fingers confuse him. His limited brain figures that teachers retiring and not being replaced is different than teachers being laid off. Either way it's still less teachers than we had before. One gets pensions and one gets unemployment, and students get less teachers. Not fuzzy math. If Prop 2.5 doesn't pass Mr Cardimino will be lost as there will be more positions cut than he has fingers and toes. He said kids shouldn't go to college because there aren't any jobs. He proved one thing right. You don't need college to be a village idiot.
Former Mayor Barrett was smarter when it came to the budget. He hid the facts, didn't show numbers, said everything was good, and attacked those who questioned the figures. Life was simpler when we didn't have to think as hard.
Editor: I have a couple of budgets from Mayor Barrett's years and guess what? They're itemized! I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
I think it was Eric Buddington who asked for a choppy of Barrett's budget a few years back and was told that the "copying fees" would be $ 400. He pushed harder and eventually was given a category budget but not a line item.
Barrett was a opaque a they came.
Ask around how he personally screwed up the original overpass funding be getting into a shoving match with one of Gov. Romney's aides. Glad he is gone.
According to Local school directory Dury has a student to teacher ratio of 11.7 if not what is it?? Also per spendig of 17,300 the state adv. is 13,000 ?? Why ?? Show us the money. Also Dury according to the web site ,has a score of 2 out of possible 10 and the school has a local school directory rating of ( F ) . If this is true why isn't someone speeking up ? If it is not true is someone looking into why someone would put it on the internet ?? Anyone looking to move to town will be looking for school information on the internet and this is what they see ?? VOTE NO
Plan or Plot B, Mirrors the National Political Trend, Fear Mongering, guilt ridden and holding the vulnerable hostage which in this case are our students.
The Problems with instituting 2 1/2 is that if we do not face reality at present, it most certainly will be worse as well those unintended consequences that 2 1/2 will have going forward..Better illistrated, there was a yester-year commercial; Fram Oil Filter, Pay me now or Pay me later.
What is most Transparent and attributable to our situation (Not Unique) is that, Nationally we have had a net loss of 2.5 Million Jobs in the last two years and appoaching a 14.5 Trillion Debt, and to coin an old phrase, used before "It is an Economic Food Chain, eventually you will be eaten"
There could very well be a Plan C, in order to save Jobs.
Are some of you dense or what. Barrett was there for twenty six years and there was never a problem. The Council approved the budget, the treasurer, auditor, department heads, the state approved every bit spending and you people still want to discredit him. The only one who wants to point the finger at him, along with the haters, is Dick Alcombright. This is the same guy who now wants to raise your property taxes another 1.5 million after he raised them 1.2 million last year! If the people in North Adams believe what Alcombright has been claiming then you deserve to be taxed out of your homes. Go back and watch the debates of two years ago and what Dick Alcombright said and see for yourself how he sold you all a bill of goods.
All those against the over-ride, good news. I have done some informal polling among my neighbors (typical average neighborhood). 9 out of 10 plan on voting No regarding the over-ride. Majority opinion is enough is enough, and if this passes, it will never stop.
The council was Barrett's rubber stamp for a decade after the gang of 5 was voted out. Barrett hired and fired department heads and officials.
Don't try to pretend that he did not let everybody know that he would punish them if they did anything contrary to his wishes.
Ask his former administrator who had to resign when she found some of accounting games. She refused to sign off and had no choice but to quit.
Ask the health department our the building department who told them whether to issue permits, our not, regardless of whether everything was or was not in order. Disobey and your choice was to quit or be fired.
EVERYTHING was subject to JB3's own rules, regardless of others signatures. Council has no power in matters of civil service. His immediate reports never dared cross him.
:: Preliminary Election: Deadline to register is Wednesday, Sept. 7. (Office open from 8 to 8.)
:: General Election: Deadline to register is Tuesday, Oct. 18
Registration can be completed at the city clerk's office at City Hall.
Absentee ballots are now available at the city clerk's office for the Sept. 27 preliminary city election. Voters may come in between the hours of 8 and 4:30 weekdays. Written reguests for mailed ballots can be sent to City Clerk's Office, 10 Main St., North Adams, MA 01247. Deadline for absentee ballots is Monday, Sept. 26, at noon.
The preliminary election will be held Tuesday, Sept. 27, to narrow the field of three mayoral candidates to two. The general election to select nine city councilors and a mayor will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8.