My Turn: Bad faith negotiations undermined effort for schools

  • Virginia “Ginny” DeSorgher FILE PHOTO

Published: 5/31/2023 11:32:18 PM

When I became a city councilor, I never imagined it would be like this. Serving the community just felt like a good thing to do. I’ve lived in Greenfield for a long time and have come to know so many of its citizens over the years. It’s a place I have known and loved and am so honored to serve.

When Mayor Roxann Wedegartner announced substantial budget cuts to our schools’ request for 2024, teachers and other staff pleaded with the Ways and Means Committee to find some alternative to the proposed budget and fund the schools appropriately. Teachers have been leaving Greenfield because they simply couldn’t make a living here, and the programs that keep young people engaged and keep them enthusiastic about school were being cut.

I think most people would agree that a strong school system is truly important to a healthy municipality; parents looking for a place to settle down always look at the schools when deciding where to buy a home. But on a more fundamental level, providing a good education is in all of our interest because kids in school today will be the adults in charge before we know it. This should be as urgent a priority as so many other things we fund as a matter of course, whether it be the Fire Department or the Department of Public Works.

Ways and Means proceeded to act in good faith. We put together a budget that will fund the schools for 2024 by using various sources that were available without going beyond what the School Committee had requested. We could have gone further, but at the time that seemed like an excess of caution, because I never imagined that the $365,000 proposed by the mayor’s financial orders for the public schools would be rescinded.

But on May 22, following a unanimous vote from the City Council to ratify the Ways and Means proposal, the mayor snatched back that money.

The mayor withdrew $365,000 from our public schools budget on the claim that it was no longer needed. The City Council only had 48 hours from its vote to reconsider its decision on the budget. By waiting until Tuesday to withdraw the financial orders, it appears the mayor wanted to make certain that the money stayed out of the hands of the teachers and our schools who do need it.

Budget season is when elected officials tell us what their values are. It’s pretty clear that public education is not among this administration’s top priorities.

I always thought being on the City Council meant discussing options in good faith with the mayor’s office; bringing the concerns of our constituents to the table; and working together on a budget that weighs these concerns and tries to prioritize them fairly. I didn’t expect it to be an exercise in bad faith negotiations; trying to figure out who is concealing what; and trying to think two steps ahead of the mayor’s office for her next moves. We all deserve better than this.

I am running for mayor because I believe there is a better way. I cannot help but believe that we can run our city on good faith negotiations and with the common good as our guiding principle.

Virginia (Ginny) Desorgher serves Precinct 3 on the Greenfield City Council and is a candidate for mayor.


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Greenfield Recorder, keeping Franklin County informed since 1792.

Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261


Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy