School Budget Jacked Up to $10.4 Million Again
By a vote of 48 to 32, school partisans seem to have forced taxpayers to accept a budget increase of $400,000, bringing it back to the original extreme $10.4 million budget. One resident, expressing extreme concern about the negative effects of a $10 million budget, motioned for a cut to $9.8 million (last year's budget).
When that motion was defeated, a school teacher made the motion that increased the budget back to its original $10.4 million. With a school enrollment of about 570 students, that budget equates to $18,233/student. Compare that to $10,474/student, the average cost for private elementary schools in NH.
It was also learned that school partisans had apparently conducted a phone campaign on the day before the meeting urging school employees and other supporters to make sure they attended the meeting. The result was to the detriment of the rest of the town.
Despite the fact that the 2016 tax rate is already at an all-time high of $33.86/$1000;
Despite the fact that a former school board chairman publicly told the school board that the budget could have been trimmed to $10 million with no job cuts;
Despite the fact that the Budget Committee struggled with the size of the original school budget and finally voted 9 to 4 to trim it to $10 million;
Despite the fact that with all the money already spent on the schools the schools were still in need of improvement;
Despite the fact that 63% of students could not pass the state math test;
Despite the fact that 20% of students were classified as Special Needs (which requires extra school resources);
Despite the fact that students going to Pembroke Academy were not prepared to do algebra;
Despite the fact that this budget will cause an estimated tax increase of about $3.84/$1000;
Despite all that, the school partisans gave one the impression that nothing was going to stop them from getting the budget they wanted, regardless of how negatively it would affect the rest of the town. This meeting demonstrated (1) how the school dept. apparently thought that the only solution was to spend more of your hard earned money, (2) how a school department with less than 100 employees could force a town of some 2500 voters to accept their demands, and (3) how expensive it was to be an apathetic voter. It was a classic case of the tail wagging the dog.
During the recess at the end of the school session, the Budget Committee briefly assembled to reconsider their recommendation. They voted 10 to 3 against the school budget.
What You Need to Do
Vote NO on the proposed school budget. The default school budget ($10,184,208) is now your only choice. It appears that even if the default budget passes the school department will still get an increase of almost $400,000 and you, the taxpayer, will still get hit with a tax increase.
It was revealing to note that, after all the school warrant articles were reviewed, all the school people left the meeting. This gave one the impression that once they got what they wanted it wasn't worth participating in the town portion of the meeting. It seems like there are two opposing groups in town: the school partisans and everyone else.
The other important action you need to take is to avoid voting for any candidate who favors throwing good money after bad, which is possibly a good summary of what happened at the Deliberative Session.
Vote NO on the teacher and paraprofessional raises. It is irrational to give three more years of raises when the school system has failed to meet expectations, failed to improve student performance, and failed to control costs.
Vote NO on the SRO warrant article. It's one more expense you can't afford.