At last evening's School Committee budget forum, I took advantage of the public comment period to offer comments along the following lines.

The School Committee (SC) and the Superintendent have developed three budgets.

  1. The first, recommended by the Superintendent, is $250k BELOW a "maintenance of effort" (MOE, or level services) budget
  2. The second, which meets the Finance Committee (FC) guideline, is $510k below the MOE budget
  3. The third, which meets the FC -10% number, is almost $3.6M below the MOE budget

For those who might be tempted to "compromise" in the "middle." I'd like to point out two budgets that we aren't considering. As the Superintendent acknowledged, there's the implicit MOE budget itself against which the others are measured. There is also a budget that expands our educational program. I'm disappointed that we aren't talking about such a budget.

Wayland isn't facing an override, and if I'm not mistaken, the last one was almost 6 years ago (FY08). While I respect that there are households facing economic challenges, the town's finances as a whole are healthy.

With respect to the school budget, there is no clamor for reduction. In fact, far from it. At a packed SC meeting back in the fall, we heard person after person--including many who have ardently challenged official actions on matters other than the school budget--speak out against unwarranted cuts. And I can't remember the last time I heard any significant voice raised on Town Meeting floor speaking out against a school budget.

If this isn't a climate when we should at least consider expanding our educational programs, what is?

We should be talking about programs such as more learning time for students, more professional development for teachers, a one-to-one learning initiative at the Middle School, or others that address the Superintendent's focus areas of health and wellness, Response to Intervention, and closing the achievement gap.

The Superintendent's recommended budget forgoes such initiatives and cuts deeper than it should.
Please don't settle for anything less.
And consider advocating for more.