The current budgetary process for School Administrative District 51 contains elements of the “worst of times” and the “best of times.” Faced with a $1.25 million curtailment in state funding, the superintendent presents a zero percent increase for a second year. Such a budget comes at a high price – teacher and educational technician layoffs, cuts in music and art, increased taxes and expanding class sizes. Some want deeper cuts, some want a larger budget. All perspectives are valid. Everyone feels the strain.
Amidst the challenges, there are many positives.
The School Board, superintendent and administrators have provided opportunities for public dialog. Parents and students have voiced concerns over the proposed cuts, while praising the quality of our programs. Revisions to the budget based upon this input have been made where possible.
The teachers have offered a furlough day. School secretaries, educational and library technicians and administrators have agreed to wage freezes. Custodians and maintenance employees have deferred salary increases.
We have work to do. We need to get creative about revenue generation. We need to protect our seniors and those families who have resided here for generations.
This budgetary process is challenging, but it is also a source of pride. Our district has dedicated, committed and self-sacrificing individuals who work every day to strengthen our children and community despite declining revenue. These people deserve our gratitude. I will vote yes on the budget and urge others to do the same.