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Rely on Knowledgeable People

Posted on 31 July 2008

We were happy to see two school committees eliminated on Monday night. We have always thought there were too many committees to begin with. Our new superintendent told us he had never seen so many committees in a single district in his entire career.

And yes, we know a majority of the committees are mandated, and the board’s hands are tied to a degree.

However we were quite disturbed by the discussion over whether or not the budget advisory committee, a non-mandated committee, a committee that has existed for quite some time, should also be eliminated. We were told their greatest accomplishment was the institution of a zero-based budgeting system, which led to the overwhelming success of last year’s budget and the low tax rate increase. That’s all well and good. But we believe their greatest accomplishment has always been providing checks and balances to what the rest of the community might not be privy to.

We were also told that last year’s BAC did not function as well as in previous years, that there were too many voices in the fray and agreement on anything was seldom reached. The BAC did not even offer a verdict on the budget they apparently had a hand in forming. At the last budget workshop no member stood to either support the budget or not.

We see a lack of leadership on the board’s part as the obstacle last year’s BAC could not overcome. The board should not be asking the BAC to gather data. The board should not be asking the BAC to meet with administrators. What the board should be doing is giving the BAC a voice.

Three years ago we attended a board budget workshop where each member of the BAC was invited to sit down at the table. They even had nameplates. They were treated as equals in the process, at least for one night, and they in turn served as the perfect liaisons to the community on perhaps the most contentious aspect of each school year: the budget.

Think twice about leading the stakeholders of this district to believe their opinion is viewed as nothing more than a disturbance at board meeting during public input. There are knowledgeable people in this community that can help you pass your budget. They are the same people that vote you into office.  

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