Monday, March 10, 2008

School budget cuts are not level service

As I read and understand it, the town manager is asking the School Committee to cut their budget for FY2009. This is unfair to the schools and to the children.

This is not what was agreed to by the Finance Committee, the School Committee and the Select Board in September of 2007, when they agreed to put an override vote before the town on 6 November 2007.

The vote of the School Committee was unanimous to support the override. The Finance Committee vote was 5 to 1 in support.
The Select Board vote was 3 - 2. Grady and Santaniello voted "no".

Source: The Longmeadow News, 20 September 2007, page 1.

The voters voted approval of the override. It was close, but the override passed.

Here is the tabulation of that November vote.

Precinct A B C D E Total

Voters 1051 931 869 983 841 4675

Yes Voters 654 480 334 418 453 2339

% 62% 52% 38% 42% 54% 50.03% (Winner)

No Voters 397 451 535 564 388 2335

% 38% 48% 62% 58% 46% 49.95%

If we want to revisit that kind of division, the current proposal invites that level of conflict. People voted in good faith in November for the override because of the belief that it would provide a level service budget for the future.

A cut in the school budget is not a level service budget.

For further information, lets look at the record:

The Republican

Override passes by 4 votes

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

LONGMEADOW - Town officials clapped and cheered after learning that residents had approved - by just a four-vote margin - a $2.15 million Proposition 2½ override at yesterday's special Town Election.

"This is a great day for Longmeadow," said School Committee Chairman Geoffrey P. Weigand, who waited for the results at the Community House along with members from several boards. This is the third override the town has passed in 16 years.

Town Clerk Katherine Ingram said 40.65 percent of the 11,487 voters in town came out to vote.

In September the Select Board, School Committee and Finance Committee voted in favor of the override, which allows the town to raise property taxes above the annual 2½ percent limit set by state law.

During two public forums members from all of the boards told citizens that severe cuts would be made if the override did not pass.

Resident John J. Fitzgerald was part of the Friends of Longmeadow, a group of citizens gathered under a tent with signs reading "vote yes" and "support the override."

"This override will help maintain our quality of life," Fitzgerald, a retired teacher, said. "We have to pay to keep the level of services provided to the town."

The $2.15 million was an amount created this summer by the Budget Strategies Committee, which was made up of two members of the Finance Committee, two members of the School Committee, and two members of the Select Board.

The override will balance the fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2009 budgets. The money is also expected to fund some of the 2010 budget.

At a Nov. 1 town forum Select Board member William G. Scibelli said the town is $1.4 million in debt and is expected to show a deficit of $2.5 million next year and $3.3 million in 2010. The current budget totals $53.7 million.

Select Board Chairman Hal W. Haberman said he was glad that residents recognized the importance of the vote.

"Longmeadow is a great place to live," Haberman said. " This override will help us pay for the important services the town provides."

The money from the override will be allocated at a Town Meeting to be held at the high school Nov. 27.

No comments: