'No' SAD 44 budget -- until they cut AES
To the Editor:
For ten years now, I’ve always voted for the school budget. This year, though, I’ll vote against it. See if you agree with my reasons for this.
The state cut heavily its financial support to SAD 44 this year, so our school board made some cuts in its budget but is still asking taxpayers to pay for more than half of the loss in state aid. Now, one can argue reasonably that the taxpayers should pay for more than half, but only if the school board has already made all reasonable cuts to the budget. It has not.
These budget cuts have yet to encompass closing Andover Elementary, and they should. By Dr. Murphy’s estimate, this would save roughly $200,000 annually, and it would affect only 30 students. We would not be denying these 30 students an education; rather we would simply be busing them to Crescent Park in order to get it. One could even argue that their education would improve at CPS; after all, if the AES practice of teaching two grades in a single classroom with a single teacher is better for the kids, then why aren’t we doing this in our other elementary schools? By closing AES, we could save $6,700 per year for each and every student that we inconvenienced with a longer bus ride.
A similar, though lesser, argument could be made for closing Woodstock Elementary, which Dr. Murphy estimates would save roughly $400,000 annually. However, this would affect 82 students, so each student’s longer bus ride would only save us $4,900.
If $200K and $400K look like round numbers, well, they are. They are subject to going up or down, depending on this or that, but they are the numbers I was given.
In formulating this year’s budget, our school board did not even vote on the question of closing either school. But, only eight months ago, this school board asked us to consider spending $300,000 per year for many years on a second gym and a second theater at Telstar. We voted that down, and by voting down this year’s school budget, we can suggest to the board that it consider the politically difficult, but fiscally responsible, closure of Andover Elementary School.