News and Announcements about the Needham League of Women Voters
The board of the League of Women Voters of Needham (LWVN) voted to support the upcoming ballot question to add $1.5 million to the operating budget for Needham schools. We based this vote on a long-held Needham League position, which states we "Support an override of Proposition 2 1/2 when the `quality of life' is affected, specifically the quality of our schools and the town's health and safety services." Although LWV is strictly nonpartisan, it does advocate for issues after study and consensus.
Question 2 would extend the school day in the elementary and middle schools, and restore Spanish language and other programs such as physical education, arts and technology at the elementary level. It has been seven years since the last operational override for the schools passed. Eight years ago a failed override resulted in the loss of elementary Spanish and other programs.
Since then, Needham has gained more than 500 students--that's more than is currently enrolled at the High Rock, Mitchell, Hillside or Eliot Schools. As a result, the School Committee has been chipping away at the programs that make Needham schools great. But with all this chipping, Needham schools have been slipping. Needham has a high student to teacher ratio, 15.2 compared to Dedham's 12.6 or Newton's 13.0. Needham students spend less time in the classroom, 906 hours compared to 1018 in Walpole or 972 in Millis elementary schools.
In the past, override proponents stressed what would be lost if an override failed. This time the message is what will be gained if it passes. Needham will begin to recover past programs given up because funds had to be diverted to cover the rising enrollments. Needham has some catching up to do, and it is time to start.
Proposition 2 1/2 allows voters to have a say in tax increases. There are times when an increase is needed, and now is one of those times.
We acknowledge that property taxes have become a burden for some residents. There are several tax relief programs in Needham, including the Tax Assistance Program for seniors and the disabled. The LWVN encourages residents who are financially able to make a tax-deductible donation to this fund.
LWVN urges you to learn about the ballot questions and to cast an educated vote on April 8. There is a wealth of information on the school department website (www.needham.k12.ma.us). Remember, democracy is not a spectator sport!
Karen Price President, League of Women Voters of Needham
For an event flyer that includes the speakers' names and bios, click here.
See a slideshow from that morning:
Photographs courtesy League photographer Greg Shesko.
The Leagues of Brookline, Needham, Newton, Sharon-Stoughton and Wellesley worked with the college to host the debate between Joe Kennedy and Sean Bielat. The two candidates answered both written questions and questions directly from audience members.
This half-hour program was developed by the Needham League of Women Voters and The Needham Channel in 2010. The show helps residents to better understand Needham's representative Town Meeting: what it does, how it works, and how to become a Town Meeting Member. Town Meeting is the legislative branch of our local government. One-third of this 240-member body is elected each year. If you want to know more, please tune in. The show features local officials as well as current and aspiring Town Meeting Members.
The Moderator's Town Meeting Handbook is also an informative source of information for anyone interested in Needham's Town Meeting.
In 1972, the town originally purchased 222 acres of what was once the Bradford Estate and put it under the oversight of the Conservation Commission. Through additional acquisitions, the reservation now includes 360 acres of uplands, trails and access to the Charles River.
Until recently, the Bradford Morse house was open for public use. The Selectmen have been responsible for the house and the surrounding 3 acres since the Massachusetts legislature allowed that parcel to be separated from the rest of the reservation land for building a senior center. What will happen to this site now that the senior center will be built elsewhere in Needham?
See a short summary of the forum on the Needham Channel News: