Selectmen again defer vote on school budgets

by susan on March 14, 2012

The Board of Selectmen last night decided to again defer their vote on whether to support the K-8 and regional school budgets until after tonight’s scheduled public hearing at the Southborough School Committee meeting.

A small handful of parents turned out at the joint meeting between selectmen and the Advisory Committee to hear the discussion, which focused on the relationship between the school budget and concerns about lagging MCAS scores.

“I don’t think (MCAS scores) should be related to the budget,” Southborough resident Shubu Mukherjee said. “But there’s no other time to enforce anything with the schools except at budget time.” Mukherjee told the board he has raised his concern over MCAS scores with the school committee repeatedly in the past, but has not been satisfied with their response.

Selectman John Rooney said performance and budget are linked because school officials make the argument that if the town cuts the budget, student education will suffer. “The budget has been linked to performance by the school’s choice,” he said.

Rooney said he wants to understand how performance will change if the town decreased its per-pupil spending. “It’s a question that hasn’t been answered,” he said.

“I believe people have asked very valid questions of the school committee, and I think it would be in the best interest of the schools to respond to those questions,” Selectman Bill Boland said. “There are a growing number of residents who want to know that what they’re spending on schools is providing a good education for the students of Southborough.”

Still, Boland said concern over MCAS scores is likely not enough to convince him to oppose the recommended $16.99M school budget.

Advisory Committee member John Butler said the budget is not the best mechanism for enforcing school policy and performance, suggesting the best way to send a message to the school committee is through the ballot box.

“The main control over the schools is through the elected school committee. Those votes are the most important votes,” he said.

For his part, Selectman Dan Kolenda said he is satisfied with the district’s performance and is prepared to support the school budget requests. Kolenda is also a member of the Northborough-Southborough Regional School Committee.

“MCAS is a tool. It is not the only tool,” he said. “It’s good there’s a discussion about that tool and how kids are doing in the K-8 system, but if you look at the overall success of system, of students as they go through high school, I think the school department is doing a very good job.”

1 Frank Crowell March 14, 2012 at 12:59 PM

The budget is a tool, the only tool the taxpayer has to enact change. You cannot vote all of the BOE out in one year, but you can send a message that the past year as well as the latest MCAS results will not stand.


2 Al Hamilton March 15, 2012 at 7:37 AM

Frank

I agree, the only way that Town Meeting can speak on this subject is through the budget. We have been given creditable examples of systems that have achieved superior results at a lower per pupil cost. It would not be unreasonable for town meeting to say here is Sudbury + 5% per student rate. come back and talk to us when your results match Sudbury’s.

It won’t happen but it would not be unreasonable.

3 Donna McDaniel March 14, 2012 at 7:57 PM

OR you can run for school committee. No contests last I heard and maybe even an open seat with no candidate! but deadline to take out papers is this Friday and have to be turned in with signatures by Monday. (Sorry can’t remember how many signatures. Check theTown Clerk’s election info on southboroughtown.com)

4 susan March 14, 2012 at 8:02 PM

Actually the deadline to pull papers is a week from Friday (March 23). They need to be turned in by Monday, March 26.

5 Frank Crowell March 14, 2012 at 10:18 PM

BUT that would require a change of jobs so that I could be at home more often. Which would then also require – 



– Making as much money as I do now, locally. I’ve looked – that is a no go.



– Having my wife get a better job. She is working on that. By the way, I use to pride myself in having a job that paid well enough so she could be a full time mom which is a full time job and one she is very good at. Alas, that is no longer possible in part due to the property taxes.



– Which leads me to possibly selling the house. My broker told not to bother until the MCAS scores get better. Sorry – poor attempt at humor.



I guess that leaves me trying to get our elected and appointed officials to see things my way which means I must be just a selfish taxpayer.

6 Neil Rossen March 15, 2012 at 6:54 AM

Seems like many on the BOS are not going to make a stand. Gobron, the unions, et al win again. Get ready for a big tax increase in the face of bad results. Well, that’s government for you. I guess I should just give up, and not even bother to attend TM. Waste of time and breath. Do we even need a BOS? The only part of the budget worth anything is the school part which they cannot control or apparently do anything at all about.

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