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Letter: Critique of BOE’s Planning Incorrect

As a new member of the North Shore School Board, and as an economist, I welcome the opportunity to respond to board of education candidate Paul Echausse’s critique of the board’s planning. In particular Mr. Echausse is upset that the board did not take into account “the fact” that recessions come around like clockwork once every eight years. To avoid cutbacks in lean years, he argues, the board should have saved in fat years.

To begin, it is misleading to call the recent financial meltdown just another recession. The economy has not suffered this badly in decades. But, as it happens, economists no longer believe that recessions can be predicted with reliable accuracy, or that they are neatly cyclical. Of course we know that recessions will occur. But I do not know of any business that plans for an economic collapse every eight years.

Mr. Echausse’s position that the board should have planned for catastrophe not only ignores prudent business practice, but has been refuted by Board President Igor Webb with the most direct argument: school boards are not permitted by law to put money aside as Mr. Echausse suggests. The budget has to be spent year by year. But what the North Shore Board has done for many years is contain cost increases to the extent possible while safeguarding the quality of education we provide to our students. And for the sake of our children we must continue to follow this prudent course of action.

Herman A. Berliner, Ph.D., North Shore
Board of Education Trustee