Balancing a Budget; Balance Lucky Parent Syndrome?
Yesterday’s RISC-Y Business NewsLetter contained a Woonsocket Call article (not available on line) describing the onerous cuts to the school budget identified by the school committee.
Mayor Leo T. Fontaine has sued the school department on a bid to balance its budget and on Monday school officials may meet his challenge with a stunning round of cuts not seen since the city budget battles of the early 1990s.
Villa Novan sports at all levels will be up for elimination School Committee Chairman Marc A. Dubois said Friday, and also all regular student transportation services.
A committee attempt to erase the remaining $2.8 million in red ink in the 2010-2011budget could also include the elimination of all teacher assistants at the elementary level and a cut of approximately $500,000 in capital expenditures on which the city is entitled to receive 80 percent reimbursement from the state.
I e-mailed an observer of Woonsocket politics yesterday to express exasperation that cuts had been identified only at the point of a lawsuit and to inquire whether he was aware of potential cuts that didn’t make the list. The gentleman, not a bleeding heart on any front, replied below with little sympathy for my premise.
Let’s establish the facts on the ground before taking up his questions.
– Woonsocket has an inadequate tax base. Not “inadequate” like Providence, which has a tax base but is legally barred from levying 45% of it. In Woonsocket, it simply doesn’t exist in a sufficient mass, no matter how many tax laws are changed.
– Teacher pay in Woonsocket is in the bottom quarter statewide and they pay a 20% health co-share.
– We don’t (myself included) all have $100,000+/year jobs. So there are “poorer” households and poorer communities.
Now to his questions.
Before I begin this debate, I need to know if you believe that suburban students are entitled by their good fortune (lucky parent syndrome) to have more opportunities offered to them? If so, why? If not, then how should the obvious socio-economic differences among the various cities and towns be balanced to assure equal opportunities?
Does the rest of the state not have an obligation to balance, if not equalize, opportunity, defined here as a good education, for children in less affluent communities?