Your reportage on the Brunswick school budget offers a classic case study in what military and intelligence agencies call “psy-ops,” shorthand for psychological operations.
Public wringing of hands, gnashing of teeth, and parading dear children and “please tax me more” parents in front of town officials are all calculated to distract from inarguable reality, while tarring those who don’t go along as child loathers.
Here are some inconvenient realities in Brunswick:
• Gross spending per attendee in Brunswick has grown from less than $8,000 in 2003-04 to more than $13,000 in the coming school year, an increase of about 70 percent.
• The closing of the Naval Air Station is a financial gain for Brunswick schools. The federal impact aid was less than 20 percent of the cost of educating military dependents, so the departure of these “loss leaders,” while distressing, is a budgetary windfall in bottom-line terms.
• The loss of federal funds, Durham tuition, and decreased state GPA, which is largely enrolment driven, should have been planned for long ago, rather than portraying them as sudden surprises.
• If the School Department were told to accommodate 800 or more new students, we could expect demands for as much as $10 million in spending increases; yet when enrollment decreases by the same amount, the notion of proportionate spending decreases never rises to the level of public discussion.
In conclusion, assertions that budgets are being “balanced on the backs of the children” are so unfounded as to be bizarre, if not absurd.