January 31, 2023 By Colleen Cushing Towle
On Friday, January 27th, a crowd of East Elementary parents and caregivers lined the main hallway of the School to clap-in the teachers and staff as they walked into the February ‘All School Meeting.’ This show of support was in light of the drastic and devastating budget cuts HPS was recently requested to make in order to balance its share of the town budget.
Over the past two weeks, certain staff members have already been informed that their positions are being eliminated as a result of the budget cuts announcements. In this regard, Hingham is operating at a $7.5M deficit and our schools are being asked to present $4.8M in cuts to help balance it. Built into these cuts are 60 full time positions, including but not limited to 26 elementary school positions, 13 middle school positions and 14 high school positions – 60 people who surround our students with a community of support and empowerment. In addition, there will be substantial cuts to athletics, arts and extracurricular activities, including but not limited to the elimination of some sub-varsity sports teams and a steep increase in fees in each area.
It might seem like a dream – or rather, a nightmare – but the pandemic did happen. It was perhaps one of the most challenging time periods for educators and students in our nation’s history. The transition was abrupt, unclear and uncharted. Yet, HPS teachers and staff handled every setback in stride. They were forced to teach in ways no one could have ever imagined, all while trying to ensure that our students get the best education they could considering all of the roadblocks they were up against. Despite these heroic efforts, we have hardly had the time to take stock of the pandemic’s full impact on student learning and well-being.
What we do know is there remains much work to be done, and the challenges for students, educators, and parents are considerable. Now is not the time to cut back on programs and services; academic, social-emotional or otherwise. One can only imagine the catastrophic impact these cuts will have on our school community.
Moreover, people come to Hingham, in part, for good schools. People remain in Hingham, in part, because their children will receive a good education. Should Hingham be perceived to no longer be committed to funding strong schools, property values will be affected. It would be irresponsible for us to not consider this risk.
Our kids deserve better. Our dedicated HPS teachers and staff deserve better. HINGHAM DESERVES BETTER.
Please follow our School Committee members’ social media pages. They have done an excellent job outlining the issues and bringing important dates to light. These debilitating budget cuts are a call to action that we cannot afford to ignore.
It is time to right the ship. We, as a community, must remain aware and vigilant and ensure that a sufficient override passes to not only maintain current services levels but go further and include requests aligned with Town and Hingham Public Schools strategic goals.