Friday, April 27, 2012

School Department Priorities: in case you haven’t chosen your answer yet, you might want to read this

Just two days ago in this post we asked you a multiple choice question:

What is the highest priority of the Brunswick School establishment, by which we mean the School Board and Department Administration taken as a whole.  Is it

A) The Children?

B)  Department Facilities?

C)  Raises for Teaching Staff?

We followed this with a series of more detailed questions for each choice to help you organize your thoughts.  We don’t know if you reached your answer, since we haven’t heard back from any of you yet.  Brunswick appears to have a heavy population of shrinking violets when it comes down to coming forward. 

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, unless you’re advocating that we all pay more property taxes to make you happy.  In which case we think you should demonstrate your convictions with a personal commitment.

As fate so often has it, The Forecaster ran an article in today’s edition that dovetails nicely with our prior post. You can find it here.

The article contains these two relevant passages:

School buildings aren't being kept in good condition, the department's director of facilities told the School Board Wednesday night.  (snip)  The total value of the department's facilities is $88 million, Facilities Director Paul Caron said. But the cost to fully repair all of the buildings has risen to $44.4 million, more than 50 percent of their total replacement value.


The board also received two petitions asking it to fully fund educational needs. The first, presented by high school sophomore Izzy Jorgensen, was signed by 240 students.

"We are dismayed by the proposal of cuts to AP and Honors courses that propel students into top colleges," the petition said. "... We keep looking for creativity, but we keep seeing the quality of our education eroded by frayed nerves and frustration."

We confess to being floored by the $44.4 million dollar figure.  If you’ve been following our discussions over past months about budgets and tax increases, it’s hard not to sense a local ‘taxmageddon’ knocking at the door.  $7 million police stations are down in the noise level by comparison.

Various briefings by School Department consultants this year, as we recall, scoped the problem out as in the range of $11 to $17 million, which was bad enough.  These were followed by wringing of hands over how operating budget ‘issues’ were going to put the facilities plan ‘at risk.’

As to the cuts to AP courses, etc, or in so many words, ‘the children,’ our prior thoughts are a matter of record.  We do, however, find the ‘frayed nerves and frustration’ (in lieu of creativity) concept novel and original.


Missing in action is any reference to the remaining possible answer to our original question.  It’s widely accepted that union ‘solidarity’ is a core principle.  Union brothers and sisters stand arm in arm, ’stronger together,’ when budget pressures arise.

Until, that is, when you keeping your job gets in the way of the rest of us getting our raises.  At which point, sorry to see you go, brother or sister, but even solidarity has its limits.  That’s why you won’t see an article, we predict, describing how brothers and sisters are sacrificing their raises to keep their brothers and sisters on the payroll.

You know the old saying: “with brothers and sisters like this, who needs brothers and sisters?”

Others less humble than Side might be tempted to say ‘we told you so,’ but our pride in our humility prevents us from doing so.

You, on the other hand, are free to think what you want about who told you so, with no encouragement from us.  We further suggest that you standby for heavy rolls, to borrow a nautical term.

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