A Letter to My School Board

First off, thank you. Thank you very much for the hours upon hours you’ve donated to trying to present a reasonable budget. I appreciate all the hard work you do and the many nights you miss with your families on behalf of the students in this district. Like many (but not all) of you, I’m disappointed in the results of yesterday’s vote. It was very close, with great turnout on both sides of the issue, but in the end, the budget was voted down.

That’s not on you. Your job was to come up with the best budget you could, and you did that. Dealing with the constraints you’d been given, you proposed something that was a balance between increasing expenses and increasing taxes. It didn’t magically do the same for less money, but it was a compromise.

But the voters have spoken, and they rejected that compromise.

I could argue that many voters did so based on misinformation. That the No side presented a story that felt very authentic, even though it tweaked a lot of the facts to make them fit what they wanted to believe. If you listen to their side, there are still many areas where there’s fat in this budget, and cutting it out will be a simple process.

You know better. You tried to warn the district that this was already as close to the bone as you could get without really cutting important things. More than that: that the budget was already cutting important things.

The voters called your bluff.

I’m not saying that I want the ensuing budget cuts to hurt our schools unnecessarily, but we’re past the point where we can continue to stretch and stretch and stretch to make do with less and less. Cut where you can, of course. But until voters see that you weren’t kidding, they won’t believe you. Put another way, if somehow you’re able to come up with another $300,000 or $500,000 of cuts, and real programs and offerings aren’t affected, then you’re proving the No side right. You’re showing the voters that yes, there was fat in the budget.

I don’t believe there was. Maybe I’m wrong.

In any case, I’m sorry for the additional nights you’re going to have to lose as you work on a new budget. I know that the No side has tried to portray this as an easy process: just fire some administrators and cut out some of the overspending on facilities, and you’ll magically find $800,000. It’s simplistic and wrong, but it sure did get the vote out.

Just know that as a parent of three children in the district, I understand there will be consequences to this vote. That there will be things that get cut that I didn’t want to get cut. That’s not on you. It’s on us. The voters spoke. I said ahead of time that you pass the best budget you can, and if it’s voted down, then you go back, make more cuts, and try it again.

Sooner or later, you’ll be forced to cut things that really set off a nerve with enough parents in the area that the Yes vote will outnumber the Nos again. It’s cyclical.

But judging by how tired I am of this process already, I can’t imagine what you’re feeling.

Good luck, and you still have my support.



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