In an inspiring show of force, nearly 300 Sandown residents streamed into the Timberlane Performing Arts Center last night to have their say on the Timberlane budget. At one point the voter registration line for Sandown was so long that it stretched into the parking lot. Deliberations had to be delayed by 45 minutes while the supervisors of the checklist gave out voter cards, some of which had to be borrowed from another town, so great was the demand.
Thank you, Sandown, for your show of strength and your active concern about the school budget. Not all of you voted to reduce the budget, but many of you probably attended your fist school deliberative and for that I am very happy. The district needs the feedback of taxpayers. We should not be spending piles of your money in complete obscurity.
The night held plenty of excitement for the 700 registered voters. First there was the shocking lie by the school board and administration that their budget is up just 2.2% when it is up 4%, but that was a lie known mostly to people sitting on the stage who did nothing to disabuse the audience. Then a motion was made by my husband, Arthur Green, to lower the budget by $2.5 million. After my prepared presentation on the rapidly falling enrollment but the even more rapidly rising budget, and a pitch to cut things that would have no classroom impact, some lively debate followed. Ultimately the motion was defeated 372-239. My husband has been sick in bed ever since though I think it is due to a cold and not sheer discouragement.
Then a gentlemen running for school board, Mr. Sapia, made a motion to raise the budget by $750,000 to buy new astro truf for the high school. That went down in flames as will his candidacy, I hope. Last year at Deliberative, Mr. Sapia got $150,000 added to the budget for new lawn equipment and sod care. One can only wonder what will become of our grounds once his son graduates.
People in Sandown are saying they can’t sell their homes because taxes are too high and the school district is not well regarded, but not enough people in the auditorium shared our desperation. Come next December when feeling helpless indignation at your tax bills, you will know that you at least, did your best to save public education from its own gluttonous demise which will come when people can no longer afford to have children.
Our fight was about affordable education. Education the taxpayers can afford. Our district has ample resources. I know. I see all the underspent lines on the budget. Why do we give the school district a blank cheque every year with no accountability for the quality of their education? NECAP scores in math and reading were down in 2013. Our SAT scores are terrible, our AP courses have just 50% of students getting 3 or above when the state average is 75%. Yet we keep shoveling money into the furnace when we should be opening windows to get some fresh air. Money is not going to solve our problems. If it could, it would have already. But money could very well be the ruin of us.