Rep. Ruth Balser on education

By Morgan Seiler
Published: October 2008

The presidential race may be almost over, but the Newton mayoral race has just started. Over the course of the race, Denebola will interview the candidates about their positions on issues important to the schools such as education. Denebola recently interviewed the four current candidates for mayor about their views on education.  Here is Representantive Ruth Balser:

Ruth Balser

“I think Newton always had and continues to have an excellent school system, Massachusetts state representative Ruth Balser said. She considers the system’s biggest strengths to be its students, families, teachers, and sense of community

Balser acknowledges there are significant challenges facing the Newton Public Schools, including rising class sizes, outdated technology, and crumbling school buildings. Balser believes the underlying cause of these problems is budget shortfalls exacerbated by the current financial crisis.

Representative Balser has several ideas to tackle the revenue challenge.  The first is a drive to increases greater energy efficiency in Newton.  Not only is plan environmentally friendly, she said, but it is also financially friendly because it will reduce energy costs such as heating and cooling.

Balser’s second idea is to expand the Payment In Lieu Of Taxes program, which encourages property tax exempt non-profits to make voluntary payments.

Her third solution is to grow the residential and commercial building stock that provides the city’s tax base.  Under the 1980 law Proposition 2 ½, property taxes can not be raised more than 2.5 percent per year plus additional growth in the value of property.   Thus, additional growth, she said, would lead to more funds for schools.

Balser also supports the governor Deval Patrick’s community partnership act, and giving municipalities more options to be able to raise revenue themselves.

Representative Balser plans to address problems in Newton schools through what she considers the city’s greatest strength: its community.

“We want to protect what we’ve always known to be true about schools: they are the heart and soul of our community, she said.  “They are the number one reason people move to this city.  It’s the responsibility of the whole community to protect the public schools.

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