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Letter: Disparities starker among school districts

The article in Globe West citing disparities in funding in Newton elementary schools (“School PTOs play key role in technology funding,” Jan. 19) makes a valid point. However, it fails to recognize the larger disparities among school districts. Per-pupil spending varies dramatically, from about $10,000 in Dracut and other towns to over $27,000 in Cambridge.

Newton’s spending is comparatively high, $16,400 per pupil (in 2012). By comparison, Arlington, where I live, can afford only $12,603 — even after two recent overrides. The PTO at my daughter’s middle school in Arlington tries to raise money for technology too, but if we had Newton’s per-pupil spending our school would have almost $4 million more to spend for our 1,000 students.

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I can only imagine what our principal could do with $4 million! He could hire back many of the teachers we lack. We could easily afford the technology we need. And Arlington’s situation is not as bad as many towns.

If we are going to have a meaningful conversation about education “disparities,” we are going to have to talk about more than one town’s PTO funding disparities, real as they are.

If we are serious about providing quality education to all our students, we are going to have to look at the “savage inequalities” that exist across our state, not to mention our nation. This is a job bigger than any PTO can handle.

Michael Jacoby Brown

Arlington

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