I am writing to support the passage of Springfield’s revised school budget.

On Town Meeting Day, only 18% of registered Springfield voters turned out to exercise their democratic right to vote on issues of social and political importance. Voters made it clear that we care, as a town, about care: We approved funding for Meals on Wheels, for mentorship programs, the Family Center and Turning Point Recovery, to name just a few. It’s clear that our town cares about taking care of one another, to the best of our ability.

Why do we not extend that care to the kids in our schools? I’m not a parent, nor am I affiliated with the public school system, but I do teach at the Community College of Vermont, and I believe there are many reasons to value education. Teachers and administrators at public schools support students in exploring their own interests, in learning new skills and communication tools, in navigating challenging social dynamics with peers and in the world at large.

Our public schools have the opportunity to intervene meaningfully, by caring deeply about students, but the opportunity is made less available every time our votes say “no, we won’t fund the kind of facilities, materials and teacher labor that our students deserve.” Why did we vote down the budget, forcing the School Board to cut three positions? A high school English teacher, a math teacher and a staff member working in custodial services have all lost their jobs as a result of our “no” vote.

Why do we approve funding for other kinds of care — medical, social services, food support — but not for the kind of care that happens through education in our schools, and not for the teachers and staff working hard to educate and care for our town’s kids? Voting will take place on Tuesday, April 30, at Riverside Middle School. Please get out there, Springfield voters, and vote “yes” on the school budget for the coming year.

Charis Boke lives in Springfield.

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