Slash-happy Board Majority Makes Blind Cut to Proposed Budget (Another good reason to vote the budget down again on May 30) By Gale Courey Toensing (Falls Village representative, Region 1 Board of Education) 3

vote-no-buttonOn May 20, the Region 1 Board of Education majority, in all its wisdom, voted on a motion from the North Canaan representative to cut $4,212 from the proposed budget for summer library work. The board majority cut this $4,212 item without knowing what the summer library work entailed. Not one of the administrators could tell the board what was involved so no one could defend the expenditure. Nevertheless, the board majority went ahead and slashed summer library work out of the spending plan without a clue as to what they were slashing.

Here’s a list I requested from the library media specialist of exactly what the $4,212 pays for:
1) Commencement video takes the first 15 to twenty hours
2) Weeding (assessing older materials and disposing of those that are:
a) no longer relevant/accurate; b) not circulating and not unique; c) redundant, in disrepair or in an outdated format).
3) Inventory of all materials.
4) Re-distribution of materials on shelves as various areas grow and diminish.
5) Introduction to new systems (for example, this summer we are supposed to change our video editing program from Sony Vegas to Avid, an industry standard. It needs to be purchased, installed, and we have to have a remedial knowledge of how to use it).
6) Requisitions, purchasing and meeting with salespeople from book and database companies.
7) Cataloging materials purchased over the summer.
8) Cleaning of the studio area, which is used by students all year without supervision and is a disaster area by May.

The first two years I was in the library, I requested more summer hours, because 80 hrs is not sufficient to get all of this done. We are behind on weeding, reading and redistributing of shelf space. The library assistant has more than she can handle in also doing inventory and handling all of the bookkeeping, as we continue to buy over the summer. These are tasks that cannot be performed when students and staff are here as our first priority is always to support and instruct the Housatonic community.

So, my questions are:
1) What is the administration’s plan for getting this work done next year?
2) How many other items are in the proposed budget that the superintendent – where the buck is supposed to stop – knows nothing about?
3) What else has the board majority cut from the proposed budget without knowing what they were eliminating?
4) Does the board majority intend to continue cutting budget items in ignorance of what they are cutting?

The budget proposal will be put before voters for the second time on May 30 after being soundly defeated by 587-351 the first time around on May 7. The board majority has refused to restore the fulltime English, math and science teachers, despite an outcry against these cuts by huge numbers of taxpayers and students – more than 200 and more than 300 students signed two petitions asking the board not to cut teaching positions. And the representatives from North Canaan and Kent at the May 20 appeared to deny that the majority of voters are also against extending contracts for the superintendent and her assistant – despite the fact that the 130 or so people at the public hearing in early May CHEERED whenever anyone spoke about not renewing their contracts and around a dozen letters in the Lakeville Journal called for the same.

Let’s show them how wrong they are. Let’s vote down the budget again, this time with an even bigger turnout and keep voting it down until the board majority gets the big picture: Restore the teaching positions and don’t renew the contracts for the superintendent and her assistant beyond June 30, 2014.

And stop the foolishness!