Guest Contribution by Arthur Green
On September 12th I appeared at the Sandown Board of Selectmen during public comment, to alert the town to an impending 9% jump in the school portion of our property taxes.
Today, we received the Cooperative Apportionment worksheet from the state, which gives the final calculation of the amount which the towns must gather in property tax to pay for the Timberlane School District. Here are the final numbers:
Note that this is the school portion of property tax only, and does not include the town and county. The town will also likely need a tax increase, which will be discussed tonight by the Board of Selectmen.
The district as a whole is demanding 5.8% more from the property tax payers districtwide, despite a further drop in enrollment from 3,673 last year to 3,581 this year. This continues the uninterrupted 9-year decline in enrollment since 2007/08, when enrollment was 4,653 the year that the Kindergarten program was instituted. For Sandown, Average Daily Membership (the metric used for calculation of State Aid) last year was down by 17.
Sandown stands out with an increase of 9.1%.
For our own property, which is typical of the town, the school portion of the property tax will go up by $514, from $5,651 to $6,165. And that does not count the town and county portions.
As I said when I spoke to the BOS, the seeds of this bitter fruit were planted by Selectmen Tombarello, Goldman and Trainor last fall, when they thwarted proper consideration of Sandown’s option to operate its own school district, an option which had the potential to deliver superior education for a permanent taxpayer saving of $1 million per year.
Taxes are going up because Timberlane School District spends too much.
The school district spends too much because it is grossly overstaffed, and is protecting its level of staffing at all costs to the taxpayer, despite steeply declining enrollment.
Other similar school districts are producing better results with far fewer staff.
Mr. Tombarello, Mr. Goldman, Mr. Treanor and others like them are fighting tooth and nail to protect the district from having to respect the taxpayers of the town and the school district.
Now, let the excuses begin. I know all of them.