And the Budget Is…
Given my inability to attend both significant budget meetings for the Town of Tiverton, tonight, I opted to be present at the School Committee’s.
For one thing, the way Tiverton’s budget process is structured, the Council’s passage of the budget is merely the first step, and not necessarily an important one. As I’ve noted, the budget passes through so many sequential hands (ending with the townspeople’s) that there are plenty of steps to absorb and affect the discussion.
Additionally, the ongoing teacher contract dispute adds an element of interest to the School Committee’s budget. The single largest group of direct municipal revenue recipients has been making a good deal of noise that it ought to receive even more,and there really ought to be txpayers filling the seats.
… And as I type, the contention begins. During discussion of some projects to benefit children, union president Amy Mullen pointed out that a related (and necessary) position has not been filled. Superintendent Rearick pointed out that the work-to-rule prevented the position from being filled and suggested that this meeting is not the forum for negotiating the contract. After further discussion, Rearick pointed out that a non-teacher volunteer could be sought.
The committee moved on, with shouts and accusations from the ostensible professionals in the audience.
It’s worth mentioning something that happened as I was getting situated: A local man who (as I understood) runs a field next to one of the elementary schools asked the school committee for $3,000–5,000 to help with maintenance for property of which the district makes plenty of use. After Superintendent Rearick’s statement that money existed in the current budget that could be redirect to the purpose, Committeeman Burk moved to give the full $5,000.
The assembled teachers, as readers might expect, let their surprised be known. “He only asked for $3,000!” somebody yelled.
Flipping through tonight’s budget handout, I notice that, even if the steps (and teachers already at step 10) receive no increase, the cost of their salaries would go up 3.5% — or $486,215, from $13,739,442 to $14,225,657. It brings to mind that old Cat Stevens lyric, something like this:
Well you picket schools, placards fill the air
If your salaries get much higher, there won’t be a dime to spare
Every step increase must be for the kids
Though proficiency’s straight across the grid
I know we’ve come a long way
Negotiating day by day
But tell me: where do the children play?