The End Is Near; Blame Somebody Else!
Reading about the budget woes on both the school and municipal sides, in Tiverton, I find it somewhat striking that none of the elected or appointed officials appear to worry that they’ll face accountability for the things about which they’re complaining. For example:
Tiverton’s schools could also take a $386,286 education aid hit next year, said Doug Fiore, chief finance officer for the schools.
Officials are confounded by the depth of proposedfunding losses, and the uncertainty.
I’m not directing this to Fiore, but to “officials”: How could they be confounded? They can read the papers. They know what’s going on in the state and in the country. And yet they approved a substantial retroactive raise for teachers last year. And yet they spent every dollar of the magic Obama money. I personally suggested to Superintendent Bill Rearick and School Committee Chairman Jan Bergandy that they put that money aside for the current budget, and they explicitly told me that their intention was to deal with the forthcoming budget as a separate matter. In other words, they didn’t want to let the future infringe on the spending of the present.
Incidentally, apparently the superintendent and school committee are going around proclaiming that Tiverton Citizens for Change “cut their budget” last year, a claim that is false or irrelevant for two reasons. First, the budget cut originated with a handful of angry residents, not with TCC. Second, current budget documents available on the district’s page state that its “surplus of $229,546 [is] to be included in next year’s budget.”
In other words, had there been no reduction in the local contribution to the district’s budget, last year, it either would have found something on which to spend the money, or it would currently have a $900,000 surplus. If the administrators and elected officials are complaining that struggling residents didn’t hand them an extra million dollars to leave lying around in the worst economy in a century, then their contempt for the people for whom they work is astonishing.
Also astonishing is this sort of thinking, which one hears across local government:
“I think the concept of closing the high school is ridiculous,” said Leonard Schmidt, chairman of the town economic development commission. “There are many ways to save money other than by closing schools.” Mr. Schmidt suggested reopening contracts for teacher concessions, and centralization of school functions, but cautioned against looking to the schools to resolve the crisis.
The teacher’s contract does not have to be “reopened,” because there currently is no contract. At the very least, one can say that it is not “closed.”