Don’t Be Fooled – by Laura Colebank
Yes, please don’t be fooled! Don’t be fooled by Kirk Carr’s statement “don’t be fooled that…cutting these [education] increases will hurt the kids” [March 30 letter “Must Adjust to Reality”].
We can’t afford to cut anymore. The 2017-’18 proposed Clinton education budget already reflects significant education cuts, including more than eight staff positions this year alone (three elementary teachers) and the Chinese program (an opportunity for preparing students for global success). Classroom sizes are increasing. As PTA vice-president, I hear frequently how upset parents are to have to “pay to play” for many programs (sports and arts) now.
Don’t be convinced our taxes will increase 11.8 percent due to state Education Cost Sharing (ECS) grant reductions. Last year Clinton was threatened to lose $1.5 million in ECS funding but only lost $87,000, and the mil rate increase was factually 0.37 percent.
Don’t be fooled by Mr. Carr’s medical cost analysis or statement that “Employee benefits have been chronic source of over-budgeted resources…” The town and Board of Education have worked responsibly to control costs. Had the town not been self-insured and part of the health collaborative, the medical increase would have been close to double 16 percent. Teachers, administrators, and staff are sharing the burden. They contribute 18 to 20 percent and the BOE negotiated a higher deductible plan for 2017-’18.
Extracting the medical and staffing contractual cost increases (3.18 percent), the education operating budget increase is actually 0.59 percent.
The proposed 2017-’18 education budget provides students what they need and is fiscally responsible. This budget has been approved by the boards of Finance and Selectmen.
A quality school system provides the opportunity to attract more people to move to Clinton. If we don’t invest, we can be sure our tax base will stagnate and thereby cost us more. Don’t be fooled. I encourage all residents to vote “Yes” on May 10.
Laura Colebank is vice-president of the Clinton PTA