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A crappy budget decision

It's a long-standing tradition to protest cuts in public budgets by making those cuts in such a way as to maximize public discomfort. The theory (and it often works) is to outrage the people enough that they will protest the cuts and get them restored. Thus are the budget-makers' pet causes, projects, and flunkies preserved.

There are countless examples. Transit service cutbacks? Discontinue routes. Library cuts? Reduce hours. Highway dempartment cuts? Cut back on pothole fixing in residential neighborhoods. Fire Department cuts? Close fire stations. And so on.

But the Andover, MA Superintendant of Schools has gone above and beyond all previous adventures in this field I've ever heard of. The teachers were granted a 1% raise in their contracts this year but no raise was included in budgets. It turns out that they needed to cut $366,000 elsewhere to cover the raises. They scraped together $266,000 out of other areas, but that still left $100,000. Their last resort was to take the money out of the supplies budget. And that includes switching from two-ply toilet paper to one-ply toilet paper.

Howls of outrage due to emerge from Andover parents in 5... 4... 3...


Comments (6)

Hmmm. That will get their a... (Below threshold)

Hmmm. That will get their attention. I usually see districts threatening to cut sports programs. Parents are more willing to see reading, math and lunch removed than sports.

Jay, What I found interesti... (Below threshold)

Jay, What I found interesting about the article is that the damn Selectmen kept the 100+ parents waiting over 2 hours before they were allowed to offer their input. That's just dumb politics.

I am just wondering what id... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

I am just wondering what idiot included a pay raise and didn't think to indlude it in the budget.

But I agree, threatening sports programs is probably a better threat than 1 ply toilet paper.

wavemaker: I agree with yo... (Below threshold)

wavemaker: I agree with your objections but I also tend to think, all things in that article considered, that there's an actual need to make the parents as uncomfortable as possible, to outright indicate they aren't being "heard" and listened to or even considered (some in that article even say so as parents, and I agree with them), but what it says to me, overall, is that the discomfort is intended. The school was asked not to raise parking fees, etc. and what I think it indicates is that they are pretty much wanting the parents, their clients, to be as irritated as possible about the problem.

Such that, they're storm out, pay higher fees, cave out of frustration. Many people use that sort of subtle infringement, inconsideration, as leverage. So, what I read in that article is that the school is displaying a lot of passive-aggression and probably always has. That they agreed about higher teacher salaries and then didn't actually budget it is another example of that...it's like a consumer showing up for their new car at a dealership and finding that you're being billed for features you didn't want and even spoke out about not wanting, and yet, presto, there they are along with the charges for them. Most people vent but then pay out of irritation and to avoid further inconvenience, some don't but most do...

I don't agree with the practice but in situations like that, particularly where public funds are concerned (if not utility companies and the like), the consumer, individual, has very little sway over inaccuracies and actual dishonesties other than to complain about it and then pay the bill. Doesn't make it right, just that that's the way some people corral funds for areas other than private companies (which bear an often greater scrutiny about commercial practices).

Schools, public AND private, should be held to similar standards, but aren't. Local boards, local governments are notorious for behaving with disregard for those who didn't vote for/appoint them, in my experience. Letters to the mayor usually accomplish nothing but a nasty retort.

What? There are schools th... (Below threshold)

What? There are schools that use 2-ply paper?

Jema, they're called libera... (Below threshold)

Jema, they're called liberal schools.






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