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Letter: Brunswick school spending isn't justified

Opinion

Letter: Brunswick school spending isn't justified

The front-page story on Jan. 25 about Brunswick school budgets begins "The school budget has been shrinking every year since 2008 ....”

This assertion is incorrect. The facts are in fiscal year 2005, the high point of Brunswick's enrollment (3,372), the budget was $27.6 million.

In FY 2008, with 3,201 enrolled, the budget was more than $32.7 million. In FY 2013, with 2,345 enrolled, the budget is nearly $33.5 million. So in eight years, student population decreased by 1,027, or more than 30 percent, while total budget dollars increased by 21 percent. Compared to FY 2008, the current budget is three quarters of a million higher, but enrollment is down by 27 percent.

The real story is told when budget per student year is calculated. In FY 2005, the figure was nearly $8,200; in FY 2008, it was more than $10,200; and in FY 2013, cost per student rises to almost $14,300. This is a 75 percent increase in per student dollars in eight years.

This growth is even more astonishing when you consider that during this period, the system closed three "old-school" schools, and opened one super-efficient new one. Even worse, they now talk of spending $20 million to renovate the remaining schools.

The fact that budgets have not declined markedly during this period is a crystal clear example of how entrenched bureaucracies mislead the public, while protecting unjustified spending levels. Brunswick officials, and taxpayers even more, should have been demanding substantial budget reductions and operating efficiencies.

Pem Schaeffer
Brunswick