Support the Override

After a quarter-century of Proposition 2½, we are faced with the decision of whether to support another override. Town officials have worked diligently to reduce costs and school officials have even taken the difficult and quite controversial step of accelerating elementary school reconfiguration by one year. Their combined efforts have reduced a $2.6 million budget shortfall to $1.896 million.

A failure to pass the override will result in service reductions across the board. Our vote on the override will be a public statement about our communal support for our schools, library and other services that draw people to settle here and pay exorbitant housing prices, despite the lack of train access to Boston.

To those considering a vote against the override, we ask you to consider the social costs that would be borne by all generations if it were to fail. Larger elementary class sizes may lead to less effective learning for many students, which could have an adverse effect on their families and their futures. The elimination of middle school sports, freshman high school sports and most clubs can lead bored, hormonal teens to find less constructive ways to use their time, and eliminate many of the ways students find and differentiate themselves in order to gain college admission and grow into productive, engaged members of society. The elimination of support staff, who free up teachers to deal with students and assist guidance counselors to address discipline issues and college concerns, will undermine our communal ability to guide and support students at a critical stage of their development. The effect of the elimination of substance abuse services is obvious. The library functions as a form of community center; the Council on Aging provides our town mothers and fathers with an important social outlet, gathering place, and safety net. Once reduced or eliminated, these will be very difficult to bring back.

These are not luxuries; rather, they are important and heavily used threads in our communal social fabric. A failure to maintain them would change Wayland’s essence into something other than the caring and engaged community that we know.

Town officials are being fiscally responsible, but are faced with externalities such as fuel, healthcare, and pension costs, that increase the Town's costs even though services are being reduced. Healthcare and pensions alone eat up nearly all of the 2½% increase allowed without an override. The budget is a responsible one and deserves our support if we want Wayland to provide the core services that it has provided residents for many years. This requires a commitment not only to our ourselves, but to each other. (The Finance Committee presentation on the override is available here.)

Please vote yes to support the override and Wayland’s quality of life.

Support the Debt Exclusion

There is also a debt exclusion on the ballot, which contemplates borrowing to cover necessary repairs to the library, Town Building, Station 2, some school buildings and the Public Safety Building, and additional capital items for the Highway, Board of Health, Park & Recreation, and school technology. There is strong support for this item as much of it entails repair work. The details of the debt exclusion can be found here (refer to slide 22).

Please support the debt exclusion.