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TRSD Public Hearing: Warrant Articles

January 12, 2011

Last night was the public reading of the 2011 budget and warrant articles.  After this, the budget committee reconvened for an untelevised meeting.  This meeting is generally a formality where the committee approves outstanding minutes, signs some papers, and cancels the tentative meeting between the hearing and the deliberative session (February 10, 2011 at 7:00pm at the PAC).  This year, we also discussed the warrant articles and tallied our recommendations.  I believe there were six members present including the School Board rep.

Article 1 is the Election of Officers and there is no recommendation.

Article 2 is the Operating Budget.  The vote was five for and one against.  I was the vote against.  I didn’t voting against the budget because it was lower than the default budget or because it was too much money.  I voted against the Operating Budget because it is a bad budgetworst I’ve seen.  The budget includes double step pay increases for teachers and across the board raises for all administrators and unrepresented employees.  These increases are offset by eliminating teachers and teacher aids and by projecting lower costs for utilities and healthcare.  None of the nonteaching, very expensive administrative positions were eliminated.  When utility and healthcare increased hit this budget, the school board will not claw back at the raises — they will claw back at books, software, and teachers.  Count on this.

Article 3 doubles the amount of money to be addes to the capital reserve fund.  Again, five to one against.  I voted against this.  The reason I voted against Article 3 is because School Board Rep Rob Collins and George Stokinger said that this would fund engineering studies for a new school.  I do not believe we need a new school and do not want to create a ‘no tax impact’ slush fund that will take us towards an unsustainable bond issue when engineers and the facilities manager have both stated that our buildings are structurally sound.

Article 4 approves spending $300k already in the capital reserve fund on a kitchen renovation for Atkinson.  The vote was six for and none against.  I toured the kitchen and believe that this is unnecessary.  Most of the money would simply make the kitchen experience a more ‘wonderful environment for diners and staff’ — I’d rather spend the money on books.  I voted for this article, however, because improving the kitchen and disapproving Article 3 will deplete the capital reserve fund leaving no money for no tax impact engineering studies for a school we don’t need.

Article 5 accepts reports of agents, auditors, and committees.  The vote was six for I should have abstained as I have no idea what I recommended the community approve.  I’ll leave this blank on the ballot.

I recommend everyone watch this meeting once it is posted on VIMEO.  First, there was a humorous moment when no one could find a flag to pledge allegience to.  More important, at the very end of the meeting a member of the community asked La Salle about the $1.2mm he said was available to fund engineering studies and permitting without voter approval IF building a new school was a priotity.  George Stokinger dismissed the question as a misrepresentation of what transpired during that untelevised meeting.  I was at that meeting and can tell you that Mr. Stokinger’s memory failed him.  At the end of that meeting La Salle asked the school board to approve initiation of studies and permitting.  He said there was money for this, if it was a priority.  One of the school board members asked if it wouldn’t be better to ask for this money via warrant article.  La Salle warned that a no vote would preclude use of other momey for this purpose for the calendar year during which the warrant failed.

No one was supposed to hear or repeat any of this.  That’s why they turned the cameras off.

Be sure to attend the Deliberative Session.  And DO NOT put any more money in the capital reserve fund unless you are prepared to bond an unnecessary school.

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