Timberlane’s Budget Committee will be meeting to finalize the budget on the evening of Dec. 23rd. Arthur Green is going to propose a bottom line figure of
Mr. Green’s starting point was the budget committee’s own cuts voted on Dec. 11th: removing all the unfilled positions (12) and the half million dollars for the transformer replacement which is being done in this current year from surplus funds.
Then Mr. Green removed $18,000 for the Public Relations Consultant and 39 staff positions (general staff, not exclusively teachers) at an average cost of $80,000 for salary and benefits.
If you think this is too radical, here’s what you should know about how academically stronger schools with virtually the same number of students compare with Timberlane schools.
- Memorial Middle School in Hudson District: total staff: 110
- Timberlane Middle School total staff: 158 (44% more)
- Woodbury Elementary School in Bedford total staff: 66
- Pollard School in Plaistow total staff: 105 (60% more)
- Hudson School District as a whole total staff: 494
- Timberlane School District total staff: nearly 700 (42% more)
These excessive staffing numbers have nothing to do with being a cooperative school district and if they did then it would be a good argument for dissolving the district for wild inefficiency. What these numbers show is a long practice of not adjusting staffing to declining enrollment. If you don’t think this is an issue with the culture at SAU#55, then tell me why even with the proposed closure of Sandown Central, the school’s principal, Mr. Rolf, is still included in the proposed third draft of the budget? It turns out closing Sandown Central ends up cutting just 4.5 positions out of 35 staff!
We have heard over and over that closing a school will have the least impact on services, yet we have not heard one specific service that would have to be cut should the school stay open with a zero percent increase in budgeted expenditures.
We’ve also heard over and over, “What staff would you cut?” Well, that is not our job. That is the job of management. Superintendent Metzler is being paid to manage a district and it is his job to manage it as efficiently as other districts that we would emulate in outcomes. Nothing proposed in the $65 million dollar budget reduces special education. What it does do, however, is give each town in the district a modest tax cut.
When our children were in school in Ontario in the late 1990s, we saw some very bad behavior from school administrators who refused to manage with the resources they were given. According to Brendan Sweeney, a Post-doc fellow at Queen’s University, “the provincial Ministry of Education assumed control of funding for schools. Prior to this, individual boards could increase funding through a local property tax levy. This taxation was done to ensure equality in the funding of schools across the province and to increase government control over education sector budgets.” In retaliatory action, school principals said they didn’t have the money to supply toilet paper, tissues, pencil and papers. My children were asked to bring rolls of toilet paper and boxes of Kleenex to school.
When the federal government shut down recently, National Parks were closed. We all know these are political moves to inflict pain in order to shift public opinion.
Superintendent Metzler has lavish resources to run an excellent school district. Other nearby districts of similar size get better academic outcomes with far fewer staff and financial resources. This proposal is simply requiring the district to manage itself better because we have hit the bottom of the seemingly bottomless well of taxpayer generosity.
Stay tuned for the meeting on Tuesday night.