The following letter to the editor was submitted by Andover resident Jake Tamarkin. The views expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Andover News. You can learn more about our policy on opinion and commentary on our Mission and Policies page.

The message voters articulated at Town Meeting in April could not have been clearer: 

Use an additional $1.875M to bring teachers back as a one-year bridge to smooth the transition as our school district resolves its budget deficit

However, the nuances of Town Meeting procedure meant the town was unable to complete the funding of this appropriation then, so we now find ourselves approaching a Special Town Meeting on Tuesday, June 18 to resolve the matter. The good news is that our work is easy, because there is only one option that balances the budget in a way that is consistent with the decisions we already made as a town: Approve Article 1.

Article 1 upholds the School Budget the town approved at Annual Town Meeting, funding the amendment in two parts: $283k of unexpected state aid and $1.592M from Free Cash. Quite simply, there is no other option on the table that upholds what voters already approved.

Article 2, on the other hand, attempts to rewrite history by reverting to the original school budget (with the minor addition of the $283k state aid). 

It is deeply disappointing that the Select Board, Finance Committee, and a majority of the School Committee all recommend the “reconsider and reverse” path of disapproving Article 1 and approving Article 2. The boards seem to hope that with a lightly attended Special Town Meeting, they will be able to go back to the way things were, as if the Annual Town Meeting never happened.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time these boards have made bad recommendations. In 2022, these committees unanimously recommended that the town appropriate $1.5M for design work on a new high school building that we very obviously did not have financial capacity for, having issued a $165M Pension Obligation Bond only months before. 

They got their way then, but fortunately not at the Special Town Meeting last November, when voters had the good sense to disregard the unanimous recommendations of the Select Board, School Committee and 2 Finance Committee members (including the Chair) to spend an additional $1.3M on the same futile high school project. 

Are we to believe that it was fiscally responsible before to spend $2.8M on design funds for a project that would skyrocket our debt and downgrade our bond rating, yet now it is fiscally irresponsible to spend less than $1.6M to stabilize our schools during an unusually challenging time across the state?

It is also worth noting that our Free Cash balance is nearly $5M higher now than it was in 2022, so in addition to this appropriation being more easily justified than those related to the high school building project, it is smaller and less consequential to our overall financial condition. We are fighting over less than 1% of the overall Andover budget and 1.5% of the Andover Public School budget.

And yet here we are. The boards got it wrong then and they are getting it wrong now. We all make mistakes; hopefully, we learn from them. The lessons I hope our elected officials learn now are that regardless of one’s own views, we must respect the vote that has already taken place and not try to subvert the will of the people, and that process matters if you want the community to support the outcome. 

This is not complicated. Do the right thing: attend Tuesday’s Special Town Meeting and vote YES ON ARTICLE 1.


Jake Tamarkin|

Andover News accepts and encourage reader submissions, including letters to the editor and opinion columns. Submissions should be 750 words long or fewer and Andover-focused. Please include your name, title if applicable to your topic and connection or interest in Andover. We also need a phone number so we can confirm authorship. Send us your prose! 

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