In Which a School Budget Meeting Goes Right

Denisa and I went off to yet another school budget meeting to vote on the latest proposed budget. (For those of you playing along at home this is for the 2017-2018 budget. The one that started in July. Yes, we’re still trying to get it set. This has been a doozy of a year.)

After the last such meeting went so horribly wrong, I was left discouraged and pessimistic that any chance of turning things around would be within reach. I honestly felt like throwing in the towel, and my post after that meeting reflects that. I concluded with this:

Democracy is decided by those who show up. It doesn’t matter in the end if they show up because a little yellow sign told them to or because they did extensive research into a subject. Their votes count the same, either way. And either way, we will have a school budget that the majority of voters in our community support. The question really becomes “Who cares more?”

But then the community poured out for the vote, and they overwhelmingly came to the budget’s defense. So we got essentially a do over. A Groundhog Day-esque chance to redo that horrendous meeting, and that happened last night.

And it was wonderful. 300 people showed up to the earlier meeting. 550 showed up last night. 200+ of the people voted to slash the budget at the earlier meeting. 500+ voted to support the budget last night. It was completely overwhelming. A massive tide of school supporters that simply flooded the gymnasium. They had to keep putting out more chairs and bleacher seats to keep up with the people who kept coming.

The meeting still took 2.5 hours, but the tone of it was very positive. For the most part. There were two significant blips in that. The first is the traditional voice of confusion embodied by one lone voter who inevitably rambles her way through the same tired questions time after time. She doesn’t believe she’s getting honest answers. She doesn’t really seem to understand any of the answers she does get. So she keeps asking the questions each time. It’s frustrating for everyone. She’s clearly upset, and so is everyone else who’s forced to wait through her muddled queries. I’m typically patient, but I’ve sat through enough of these meetings to see this for what it is.

The second blip was new. A voter (sorry: DOCTOR) from a local town who was very aggravated about the fact that the school budget had been attacked, and who had shown up to defend it willfully. You could tell he was frustrated with the glacial pace of the meeting, and while I can certainly relate(!), I also believe we can look for more polite ways to handle it. (For those of you who are new to the area and didn’t get the repeated references he was making to where he works, might I point you to his web site, which I present without further comment? He does have a doctorate in biochemistry, after all.)

In any case, it’s done. The budget is set again and ready for a vote. It appears the opposition has thrown in the towel, but we simply cannot lull ourselves back into complacency. We need that many people showing up time and time again. Because you never known when the opposition will come back, and our schools’ budgets have been slashed enough. Perhaps with that amount of support, we can begin to start bringing in new initiatives to not simply keep our students’ heads above water, but to start branching out into new directions.

A guy can always hope.

The vote is October 24th, and this time, please vote YES.

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