On May 9, the City Council rejected the school department’s budget for the 2013-14 academic year. As co-chairs of the Cambridge Parent Advisory Council on Special Education, we are writing to express our disappointment and frustration at this outcome.
The proposed budget had the unanimous support of the School Committee. It was developed with input from parents and educators, and it reflected the committee’s efforts to provide adequate funding for services provided to all children, including those with special needs who are among the most vulnerable students in our community. This budget contains funds for an additional autism classroom, an additional Special Start classroom and more school psychologists and inclusion specialists. It took eight months to prepare this budget – enough time for the many dedicated stakeholders who participated in the process to provide their input.
Although we understand the concerns of the city councillors who have publicly explained their reasoning for voting against the budget, none of the concerns expressed relate to the budget itself. The City Council does not have the authority to vote on specific line items, and if there were issues councillors wanted to see addressed there was a period of time during which those concerns could have been brought to School Committee.
In the future we hope that City Council will work more collaboratively with School Committee and not have impetuous political gestures jeopardize the welfare of our children’s education.
Zina Gomez-Liss, Fran Cronin and Melissa Preston Bulyko, co-chairs of the Cambridge Parent Advisory Council on Special Education