Ridgefield Press, March 24, 2016
At their March 8th meeting, the Selectmen dodged their Charter responsibility by not making a recommendation on the requested 5.72% education budget increase. The Selectmen folded to political pressure from a special interest group representing 20% of our Ridgefield community.
What ruffles my feathers is that we elect these people to make balanced decisions that affect the entire community. So did they?
Sort-of. By recommending that the mill rate not exceed 3.5%, they were saying that the BoE request was too high.
The question has now moved to the Board of Finance and they should have lots of pointed questions.
I re-read a letter-to-the-editor from 2004. The BoE and it's supporters made the same arguments then: state mandates, special ed, DRG, falling behind and real estate values.
To begin: real estate values have fallen precipitously since 2004 despite steady increases to the BoE budget year after year -- mostly to support a larger school bureaucracy, more hires, a larger head count. Does this have a familiar ring to it?
About $800,000 of this year's school budget goes to training teachers. Are we hiring the right teachers? I don't understand why the teachers don't contribute to this training.
Nevertheless, over the years, nothing much has changed scholastically in special ed or standard ed. Yet this year the town has cut almost $1,000,000 in the highway department budget and will most likely be expected to cut planned fire fighters. These cuts will affect all of us in order to satisfy an insatiable 20% of the community. Is that a balanced approach?
The town's books are audited annually. Connecticut has an education auditing department. How about using it, Board of Ed? Let's make sure the kids are getting the benefits, not the bureaucracy.
From a strong proponent of great education.