I had the distinct pleasure – or displeasure – of attending the SK School Committee Meeting Tuesday.
The general flavor of the meeting was for the newly elected members to hurry up and do what they promised to do in their campaigns, with an emphasis on HURRY UP!
Nobody wanted to be confused by the facts. They felt the need to override the work of the past committee – that had put more than six months of work into a full analysis of numbers and formulas – at the very first meeting.
Not only did I find the general knowledge of the committee lacking about the issues, but they did not even know how to run a proper meeting using Roberts’ Rules of Order.
With the daunting task of overcoming a $4.8 million dollar deficit, the new School Committee refused to give up anything that would save money, instead preferring to have our taxes raised AGAIN.
Even if they raise our taxes to the maximum of 4 percent, they are still faced with more than a $2.9 million deficit, and still are clueless as to how to save money for the tax payers. It was brought up by a community member at the meeting that the cost to educate a single student in SK is more than $22,000.00 per year! Neighboring Massachusetts towns of the same size are paying less than $17,000 per year – because of the preparations for proper budgeting they adopted more than 10 years ago.
These factual numbers were not even considered as the committee bumbled their way through various motions, removing motions, re voting on motions and ultimately cutting off the public from being able to speak their piece. The newly-formed “fully transparent” School Committee even approved minutes from a previous meeting to which five of the seven did not even attend.
I did not have enough information to decide whether or not or committee legal counsel should be fired. I did hear the attorney on the Dan Yorke show blast the very committee she represented just a few short hours before they were voting to fire the firm. The motion came out as soon as the meeting started and was argued heavily by Sarah Markey of the School Committee – and the NEA.
There appears to be no way out of this deficit without some pain, working save $4.3 million and remaining transparent, all while trying to figure out what to do next now that you fulfilled your promise to keep Wakefield Elementary School open – no matter what the cost will be to tax payers – or what the School Committee is willing request of our future generations.