This is the time of the year when the School Administrative District 51 budget for fiscal year 2016 begins to take shape.
Last year’s budget had the highest cost per student of any of our neighboring school districts, almost $15,700. Yet, standardized tests showed that SAD 51 students achieved the lowest math and reading scores of any of our neighboring districts. We cannot agree that SAD 51 students are any less smart than those in Yarmouth or Falmouth. Greely students achieved a math proficiency of 72 percent, Falmouth 85 percent, Yarmouth 84 percent. Greely students had a reading proficiency of 70 percent, Falmouth 82 percent, Yarmouth 84 percent. Quite a difference.
If SAD 51 students achieved the highest grades in math and reading proficiency, then one could argue that the budget money was well spent. However, this was not the case.
I challenge the School Board to consider no project this fiscal year that does not directly focus on improving that math and reading proficiency levels of SAD 51 students. This would include deferring discussions on a turf field and a performing arts center.
I challenge the board to have a laser focus on improving math and reading proficiency.
There is plenty of money – more than any of our neighboring schools.
I challenge the board to discipline itself to use every budget dollar for its intended purpose: to insure our students have the math and reading skills necessary to succeed in their chosen field once they graduate.
Once that occurs, it is appropriate to consider those nice-to-have amenities, such as a turf field and a performing arts center.