2014 school budget manipulation

To the Editor:

The school board says taxes will go up to cover budget increases most of which are out of their control. And as luck would have it these increases will result in a better education therefore a more robust local economy. My what good fortune. Now there's a leap of faith if ever there was one.

They consider their employee's wage, benefit and pension cost increases to be mandated by the teacher's union and that there is nothing they can do about those increases, yet they authorized them.

They say high school tuition costs are dictated by a private high school administration and those costs are out of their control, yet they don't collaborate to change that business relationship.

And the board argues that us taxpayers in St. Johnsbury spend less to educate a child than the taxpayers in our neighboring towns; insinuating that we should be ashamed of that. Sorry but I don't see these surrounding towns doing any better economically than we are.

At the same time, they blame Montpelier for these high state-wide per-pupil education costs saying their hands are tied. And the education professionals suggest that we take our complaints to Montpelier. Not that the school board or their administrators, or the teachers, or their unions should. Us! How much more evasive, manipulative and irresponsible could that suggestion be?

There's more going on here than meets the eye. 22 new students this year and 18 next year? That has been the trend for the past several years in St. Johnsbury but nowhere else around us. In fact student population is declining throughout Vermont. Where is this growth in the number of children living in St. Johnsbury coming from? If it's the result of positive economic population expansion, then wouldn't this growth produce more taxpaying residents to pick up the increased education demands these children are causing? Instead the equation is more kids, fewer taxpayers, declined property values, fewer jobs, more foreclosures, more tax delinquencies, fewer property owners, more zero- to low-income guaranteed subsidy opportunities for out-of-town landlords, less town revenue, dollar bills worth less, food, gas, heating, medical care, exploding through the roof.

Perhaps it's time we figure out what is driving this lopsided population growth in this town and put a stop to it. Do you suppose the local school administrators are afraid the day of reckoning is near and this year may be their last hurrah? I think the Vermont education industry likes having things not under direct local control. Conveniently confusing, complicated and manipulative. Quite an example they set for the children isn't it?

Mike Fortier

St. Johnsbury, Vt.

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