Last week an email popped into my box that said, you have been added to the group “KEEP MR. MIKE AT MONTCLAIR.” At the time I had no idea that Mr. Mike, the beloved custodian of 20 plus years at my children’s elementary school had just received notification that he might lose his job at the end of this year.
Immediately, alumni and friends of Mr. Mike as well as teachers and parents of current students posted on the page. Each one with a story to tell about how Mike Boell had impacted their lives. The news reports in the Beaverton school district are quite grim. We are looking at a budget deficit of over 33 million dollars that needs to be cut from next year’s school district budget. These cuts mean making awful choices, cutting teachers, aides, specialists and administrators. Our school, the smallest in the district, is not only at risk of losing our custodian but maybe our library specialist, our PE teacher and our music teacher. Those of us with kids in the public schools want the best for our children. What is wrong with this country that we don’t seem to value educating our children and the shortfall comes out of these institutions. Education and raising children in public learning institutions with caring, competent adults should be one of our countries highest priorities, and yet here we are creating Facebook pages to rally to save beloved employees from being terminated.
The most amazing thing that has come out of this event was that a parent took the time to create this group. Mr. Mike was able to read and see how much he is loved and what a difference he has made to so many people. Many times in our lives we don’t get that acknowledgement and I was so thrilled when I read what Mr. Mike had included in his post reply to the group, “This last week has been a mess and all your stories has brought a much needed smile to my face. There is an old saying that when you love what you do, you never work a day of your life. I suppose that best describes the last 20 years working at Montclair.” He also encouraged us to do more. He told us to, “to talk with our principal and attend to one of the upcoming school board budget meetings on March 30th and April 5th and MAKE SOME NOISE!”
Today’s mitzvah is a reminder not to sit idle when there are issues that need to be addressed. This isn’t the first time the Beaverton School District has struggled with budget cuts. Unfortunately, this has been a common theme for several years running. One year, I served as our school’s spokesperson at a budget committee meeting and it did make a difference. Parents and other community members must get involved and come up with creative solutions to these difficult problems. All I kept thinking while I was reading this article is, “I know these are hard economic times but is there any way we could fundraise this money instead of only cutting things?”
So I encourage you to take note of what’s happening in your community. While there are struggles worldwide perhaps you can make an impact right in your own community. Get involved. Make your voice heard, attend your school district’s budgets listening sessions and support your local public schools or whatever other issues are playing a significant role in your own community.
I know that I will be in attendance for at least one of these sessions helping show my support and making our Montclair voice heard!