Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Winchester school budget plan still in limbo

Public heard, but no action

 By Abby Spegman Sentinel Staff

WINCHESTER — There was a hearing on the budget, and plenty of comment on the budget, but still no budget proposal for the Winchester School District.
The town’s budget committee went ahead with its public hearing despite not having its proposed budget for the district ready to present. That’s because the school board was late in getting its recommendation to the committee, said Chairman Brian D. Moser.
Instead, the committee wanted to hear input from the public on the school board’s recommended $11.5 million budget, up 3.4 percent over the current year. School officials have said these increases are necessary, partly because costly items like tuition to Keene High School and teachers’ salaries are contractual.
More than 50 people came out Tuesday, the largest crowd for a budget hearing Moser said he has seen.
Though some were in support of the school, most who spoke at the hearing railed against what they called a cripplingly high tax rate.
“There’s something structurally wrong with the school system in this town …” resident Joseph Kozma said. “I either have to foreclose or move out.”
He suggested there are too many teachers at Winchester School for the 480 students there. (The district’s website lists 32 teachers and 43 paraprofessionals at the school.)
“There’s an army of people in the parking lot every day. Those are the people bleeding us out,” he said.
“They’re bankrupting us,” Malcolm J. Perkins said, citing what he called a costly administration.
Resident Robert J. Salg, who is retired and on a fixed income, said his taxes went up by $469 this year. “I cannot take another increase like that.”
Winchester had the fourth-highest tax rate and third-highest school tax in the state last year. The 2011 tax rate was up 15.8 percent from 2010’s, while the school portion went up 24.4 percent, mostly because of higher-than-anticipated special education costs.
Ted Ryll, a member of the budget committee, presented a petition with about 30 signatures calling on the committee to separate “absolute needs” from “mere desires” in the school board’s budget.
But the committee had few recommendations on where to trim.
Budget committee member Richard Horton suggested reducing the custodial staff and cutting the technology director from full-time to part-time. He also asked about dipping into a capital improvement fund for some larger maintenance projects planned for the next year.
And while he didn’t try to cut them, Horton did call the salaries of the superintendent, principal and assistant principal “hard to swallow.”
But committee member Robert E. Davis suggested more drastic cuts, targeting special education, administrative costs and teachers. He said after the hearing he thought the school board’s recommendation was unacceptable, a sentiment he heard from speakers that night.
“It has to stop,” he said.
The district’s superintendent, Kenneth R. Dassau, said afterward he would have liked the school board to have had a chance to explain its recommendation to help people understand the numbers.
“Someone’s always losing their job or house … What I really heard is that I think the board and the budget committee have to have a responsible meeting where they can agree on some changes,” he said.
“Where is that balance between a responsible budget and the community’s ability to carry that payment?”
The budget committee will have its proposed budget finished by the end of the month, Moser said. The school district’s deliberative session is scheduled for Feb. 9.
Abby Spegman can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1409, or


Hard To swallow said...

Like Mr.Dassau said,"people lose there jobs and houses all the time," so stop your crying and give us what we demand. This guy doesn't care about the over taxed, and probably doesn't care about your kids either, is all business to him.

Anonymous said...

What Dassau didn't say is that the only ones immune from losing their jobs and homes are administrators, teachers and aides. They are socialist, elitist snobs who think the rest of us are alive to serve them, while they corrupt the minds of the children with their socialist agenda.

They know that coding kids for special ed translates to big bucks for their government education machine. The sooner we have a separation of school and state, the sooner kids will have at least an opportunity to learn something.

Let's hope the budget committee sticks to its guns and makes heavy cuts.

Anonymous said...

OMG.... does he really make 114,000$
Now its really easy to see what the problem is no one involved in public schools is worth that. that kind of money could buy a lot of books and pay for 3 or 4 teachers. What does a superintendent do that's so important?
Does he teach? why does a school need one?

Anonymous said...

I would like to see the SAU costs separated out and voting on that. I have a hard time that these jobs were filled mostly by people from the old SAU without them being advertised. How many secretaries do you know that make $49,000 a year the first year on a job??? The majority of the teachers don't make this...they are the ones that spend their own money buying things for the kids in the classroom. $79,000 for the assistant principal... come on... that position can go too!!

Anonymous said...

holy smokes, 49,000 for a secretary and 79,000 fir vp. now it is very easy to see where the cuts can come from.
is it possible for someone to supply this site the same kind of info sheet about all the school payroll budget like we saw about the town a few weeks ago, This could get very interesting.

Anonymous said...

You mean to tell me that there is only 5 people besides myself that feel like we all got screwed here? Where the hell is the outrage, are you all braindead or something?