I’m indebted to Loren Martell for writing a review in the Reader Weekly of the most critical school board meeting I’ll have attended in the four years of my service on the Board. Because it wasn’t our monthly meeting we didn’t video tape it for later posting on Youtube.
I’d forgotten the Superintendent’s description of Bill Hanson’s financial forecast as being a “worst case scenario.” Of course it will be even worse with the acceptance of even more pay for our staff than the forecast outlined.
I’m not positive but I think Loren quoted me not from comments made from the meeting but from a little speech I’d planned to give a couple weeks earlier. I didn’t give that speech since I’m trying to bite my tongue and stay positive but I’m glad Loren publicized them: As Loren reported (although the quotation marks aren’t as orderly as I’d like) I wrote:
“If a contract is brought to us that I view as destructive to the District and our children, I will make that case in public with particular ardor. We were given a ten-minute preview of our future in January during our first budget meeting. The year I will be facing the voters again [2017-18] we have a projected $13.7 million deficit… I worked very hard to persuade people we would be in a dire situation if we did not add $1.8 million with that levy [approved by voters last fall] so we could try to keep our classrooms from getting any more crowded than they are, 40 to 50 kids in some of the high school classes. You cannot teach that way. So if this is, indeed, “Treat Our Teachers Decent Week,” accepting a contract which is going to cram more kids into the classrooms is no way to treat them decently.
“I would point out, or at least amend,” Welty went on, “what Member Loeffler-Kemp pointed out: We did talk about [contract] parameters, but we could not fully realize what the next four years was holding in store for us when we set the parameters.” He said the District would “hire 13, 14, or 15 teachers with the [levy] money the voters authorized” but then “have to lay off twice that many” due to an increasing deficit. He finished by deploring the lack of information Board members have to work with: “I’ve been trying to have a discussion about our fiscal future for a month and have only received three very slender pieces of paper from our business office that give us no clue as to how we end up $13 million in debt.”
The superintendent and Board chair did not deny that the doomsday deficit numbers Member Welty referenced were indeed the projected estimates of the district’s finance department, but argued this was a “worst-case” scenario.