During Tuesday night’s school budget meeting, our Board of Education decided to change the date for the discussion of the instructional components of this year’s school budget.The instructional components are those that directly impact our children’s programs.The meeting will no longer be held next week on Tuesday, March 5 but instead will be held on Tuesday, March 19. I know many parents had specifically marked their calendars to attend this critical budget meeting.Changing the date at the last minute is unfortunate and goes against the school board’s claims of improved transparency and openness, particularly given the current budget is calling for a reduction of approximately 14 teachers along with several teacher’s aides.The date is now also very close to the spring recess and will leave very little time for public discussion before the April 16 budget adoption date.
This decision was made at the very end of the meeting when the floor was closed to resident comments. As a resident who has closely followed school budget issues for a few years, I took the opportunity – even though I knew the floor was closed to comments – to quickly state my disapproval of such a decision.While I apologize to the Board and my fellow residents for doing so, I ask for their understanding as our children’s programs have been and will continue to be cut if we don’t get the local community more involved and start taking stronger stands on the issues.The community needs to push back on unsustainable increases in benefits and salaries (our primary budget drivers over the past 5 years) as well as state mandates (a secondary budget driver). We need resident input at these meetings and changing the dates is not conducive to getting that input.
By the way, labor contracts have recently been signed with our central administrators as well as with all other administrators.In another example of a complete lack of transparency, none of the details of these contracts (all include pay raises) appeared in either the GC News or in the minutes to the Board meetings.Central administrators have been given a raise of 2% which, when coupled with their increased pension costs and compared against the 2% property tax cap, will result in a reduction to student programs.When are we as a community going to start asking the tough questions?While I support our teachers and administrators, I feel now is the appropriate time to begin weighing that support against the support for our children’s academic and extracurricular programs.
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