Well it isn’t the X-Men, but there are definitely two sides to this story. Vote #4 was successfully won, and with a clear majority of the voters. We even had a huge turn out for this vote; at a level unheard of in our towns. So what could be wrong?
Our story begins with defeat of vote #3… How could this have happened? We passed the budget, including a $352K deficit payment on vote #3 last year! We had visited the towns before the budget was finalized; we had returned $24K in surplus to the taxpayer; we had a 3 year contract with the teachers; we had reached out to the community with clever graphic ads in print and social media; we had involved the students in meetings and convened a panel to discuss their future; and yet with all of this, the budget was defeated and the no voters had gained support. So, what choices would be made, what cuts would be added, what teachers and students would be affected to appease the voters of our small school?
“Can you explain how the school is meeting the needs for our children? 25% SPED and more to come. Below ave. college prep, above ave teacher/pupil. Ave. in math and below ave. in reading. With a school rating of 0 this year. 58th last. We seem to be only meeting the financial needs of those employed at the school…The state ave. for SPED is 13%. I believe complacent teachers are using SPED for a dumping ground for a challenging student. Mr.Pike and the board has allowed this…I know, Only more money will fix this problem. Right? The 19 unqualified teachers aides have not been able to help…You as a board member Judy, should be concerned and be as well informed about what this program is for and should be run..I have done my homework.“
“Funny how they send postcards and newsletters in the mail but no factual information is on those, just propaganda. Just once, I’d like to see the facts written in black and white. How much of the budget is grant money? What happens if that grant money falls through? Are the voters on the hook? What is being done to ensure that the school doesn’t go over budget as it has repeatedly in the past (and we’re still paying on that last mess)? Frankly, I don’t care about senior projects or ice cream socials. I care about my tax bill that increases at an exorbitant rate year after year.“
Doesn’t sound like our efforts made a damn bit of difference….
So, it is decided that no further cuts will be made because there are no further cuts that can be made which will not undermine the foundations of the education that the children of our small school will receive. Bold move, slap in the face or just reality? I guess it depends on your point of view. Now what to do? Voter resignations, informational meetings, budget freeze, extended deadlines for contracts, pull out all the stops to get this budget passed so there is some certainty for the 2014-2015 school year.
“ATTENTION!!!!! VOTERS…THE SCHOOL BOARD AND ADMINISTRATION …HAVE DECIDED TO IGNORE YOUR 3RD. BUDGET NO VOTE…THEY DECIDED NOT TO MAKE ANY CUTS AND PUT THE SAME BUDGET OF $7,999,999.00 UP FOR A RE-VOTE…WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS BLATANT SLAP IN THE FACE???MAYBE THEY DIDN’T HEAR NO LOUD ENOUGH!!!! PLEASE BE SURE THEY HEAR YOUR VOICE LOUD ENOUGH THIS TIME.“
“Come on Amy … honest??? When the third budget got voted down, the school went on a DRIVE to sign up voters who previously had no interest in voting for anything instead of working on the budget. You can’t tell me that that is anyone’s definition of “honest”. It’s a slap in the face of all the voting taxpayers. And since I worked the polls today and showed the newly signed up voters how to vote, I know every single one … who had never voted before and how many of them don’t receive a property tax bill.“
“[Our school] is important to us because of the future education of both our children. Our son loves [the school] and we as parents and taxpayer’s support our teachers and the budget for our children’s education!”
“As a judge of Senior Exit Projects for several years, I have witnessed firsthand how [the school] nurtures the abilities of its students and enables them to move on to productive futures. Believe me, it’s worth every penny!”
Well the voter registration efforts were successful, the reminders to voter to vote, the anger generated over divisive posts, the efforts of many parents, students, and community members got the budget passed.
“Thank you to everyone who voted yes and to all who worked so hard to get that yes…[the school] ROCKS!!!”
“Thank the lord.”
“You all got your way, now give these kids an 8 million dollar education.”
So, what price victory? I think a heavy one. But I think it was worth it. The school will be able to provide more educational opportunities to the children and we found a level of support for the school that we didn’t know existed at the darkest hours of this fight; and make no mistake, it was a fight. There is energy that we need to harness and relationships we need to cultivate. There are at least 444 people invested in the success of the school to educate the next generation of leaders. So, yeah, it was worth the price.
“The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.” Aristotle