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Opinion

I am very disappointed at the defeat of the school budget and the school district's institutional response to its implications.

The budget defeat was the result of the anger of the town residents, particularly the town's seniors towards their high taxes.

Passing a school budget has become education by managed care. Like the insurance companies who ignore the opinions of doctors regarding the nature and extent of treatment, the town's residents imposed their valuation of what education is needed based upon the amount they want to expend. The seniors voted against the budget based not upon what is necessary for the education of its residents but how their pocketbook was affected.

The anger of the town's seniors was obvious at the polls. When I voted and saw the look in their eyes and determination in their faces, I knew the budget was going down in the defeat.

In this atmosphere, even if the board proposed a budget less than the contingency budget, it may still be defeated because residents' taxes will increase.

Residents concerned about paying higher taxes are not concerned with the high cost of education, including the "No Child Left Behind" un-funded mandates; the extra attention and resources necessary to educate children who came into school whose parents are not highly educated; from a household where English is a second language; the fact that the buildings are old and there is deferred maintenance; the skyrocketing cost of fuel and health care; that the teachers' pension programs returns did poorly and the district must make contributions in the millions or that the value of their homes will increase if the passed budget leads to higher student achievement and increases demand to live within the district.

Seniors and other opponents will not vote for a tax increase. They will rationalize their decision many different ways. They will accuse the school district of wasting money and mismanagement, without proof of same.

The process should not be governed by the amount residents want to pay, but by their actual cost.

This is nonsense; the board's response to the budget defeat is the tired refrain that we have to get more input from the community and make the community a larger partner in the overall process. No matter how the district publicizes its itemized budget and conducts community meetings giving people the chance to evaluate its reasonableness, it will not overcome the residents' anger.

The district must come up with a new approach to passing the budget. There appears to be more angry people than parents with children in the school district. They need to get more people to the polls favorable to the budget as supposed to thinking they could change the minds of people who are already angry at their high taxes.

Rick J. Rutman


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