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Buy the books!

Books .. Books .. Books .. Books for the students. The incessant cry for books comes from the School Committee. Every year, year after year. But this is what I don't understand. Most every year books are budgeted; and then that budgeted figure changes and then the funds are no longer there to buy books.

Why does this happen? Who allows this to occur? Whose responsibility is it to budget for books and buy them?

Correct me if I am wrong; it is the school committee who votes for the transfer of money out of one line item to another. It was the school committee who voted to expend the money elsewhere. These were their decisions. The school committee alone, decided to vote the money from the budgeted book amount to some other "more important need" such as fourth grade instrumental music lessons or heating the water in the pool for water polo or keeping the substance abuse counselor's remaining salary! Or allowing whatever the special need is. But the choice was that of the school committee . to take money from books and spend it elsewhere! They chose not to buy the books! Only the school committee can do that.

It is also the policy of the school committee to not inform the public what the SPED costs of METCO students are by stating that it is such a small group of people that they would be easily identified. The Town of Longmeadow is responsible for the dollars expended on SPED for METCO. I bet if the school committee didn't hide behind executive session privilege, the money spent on SPED for these children (year after year, child after child) would fund all books for the entire district always!

So when I hear the plaintive cry about books from Christine Swanson at every public meeting, I would say to her and all other school committee members, it is the policy of the school committee to budget for books and spend the money you budgeted on books, not transfer it to another account. Buy the books!

Life is about choices. It is not only the policy of the school committee, but is their choice. It isn't happenstance. It isn't an accident. It is a calculated choice. If there are no books, it is no one's fault but the school committee's. Stop whining and buy the books!



Diane B. Nadeau

Longmeadow