Councilor Rosen catches the mood of the listeners: "we recognize that our students are very needy...such great needs...we provide the best education we can...the most affordable education we can...it's too easy to look at numbers and money all of the time...it is a human being, a child...we can't undo damage in the future." This may be the first time I've heard someone on the council floor concede that we can't wait this out: that there are kids going into classrooms every day, regardless of the funding levels. Councilor Rosen also asks, "Are we out of the woods yet?"
Councilor Palmeri takes that metaphor and runs with it: "We are out of the jungle, but we are still in the woods...working together we may be able to get out of the woods...tonight gives us a chance to exhale...be prudent in out decision making." As Councilors Palmeri and Clancy were those who were most incensed at the School Committee's request for an additional 1.8% in the fiscal year 2009 budget, the change in tone this evening is remarkable. However, Palmeri continues his colleague's attempt to pit areas of the city against each other: "Public students are leaving the East side...a very serious issue...we need a budget that is fair to everyone." A budget that cuts teachers for the sixth year in a row is not fair to any student in the city.
Councilor Toomey urges us to focus "our efforts on reforming the Chapter 70 (funding) formula" at the state level. She also reminds her colleagues that "education is the primary focus of our future...all great societies in history put education as a top priority."
And that was it on the funding, except for a parent who got up at the end of the meeting to remind the councilors that even if the budget is balanced, we are still nearly $60 million dollars in the hole from the past six years of cuts.