Men on the moon? Ludicrous! Computers that fit in your lap? Ridiculous! A year without a school tax increase? Preposterous, say Mr. Cox and Ms. Lindenbaum in their letters of Dec. 16. I suppose there will always be those who feel compelled to tell us what we can't do, though it should be obvious that failure is more often due to a lack of will than a lack of ability. Mr. Cox goes so far as to say he wouldn't even want to try to deliver a school budget without a tax increase.
For decades our budget has evolved without the pressure of a popular vote. By all the laws of evolution it is highly unlikely that we now have the most efficient budget possible. After a decade of tax increases averaging in the double digits, and predictions of disaster without continuing 6 percent tax increases, the school district appears to have done well on two years of 2 to 3 percent tax increases. Did the need disappear? Or did the district become more efficient in spending and more productive in the delivery of services in response to lowered revenue? Could it be that prior to FY97, while we weren't paying attention, the district budget grew more than it needed to? Could it be that the extra money built into the budget for the teachers' contract that wasn't needed is still being collected, year after year? Could it be that the extra money built into the budget for past capital projects and equipment purchases is still being collected, year after year? Are Mr. Cox and Ms. Lindenbaum so sure that more savings cannot be wrung out of the system and used to improve the education and safety of our children that they would refuse even to try? Do they have so little faith in the ability of our well paid administrators to do what managers of every other corporation and municipality in the United States have already done over the last 10 years?
I am offended by the sentiments of Ms. Lindenbaum who feels that "non-school related" personnel should not have input into the budget and that making one's views known is "budget bashing." And while she appears willing to accept that, as she states, measures to ensure the safety of our children were nixed by the board in a year capped by a $400,000 surplus because of a lack of money. I would consider this a deplorable action if true. While I count myself among the "school-related" by virtue of my membership in the Deasy PTA and on the PTA budget committee, I would never think to ask taxpayers to pony up thousands a year but keep their mouths shut. It is disingenuous to encourage the concept of "us" versus "them" when the support of the latter is so essential to the health of our school system. On the contrary, I implore all my fellow residents to tell the school board what you want to see in next year's budget at board meetings, in the newspaper, or on the street corner. And remember, a vote on the budget is good for one year, but a vote on a board member is good for five years.
Dr. Rodger Silletti