Wednesday, June 23, 2004

The taxation without representation budget fails again. This quote from the board president really burns me up:

"It's not a happy day for the district," said school board President Marino D'Orazio. "It seems this Board of Education has been faced with some issues over which it has no control. ... It's all come together in one place THEY have a say, the school budget vote." [emphasis added]

D'Orazio attributed the defeat to a voter backlash from the town of Olive over so-called "large parcel" legislation that would tax reservoir properties separately, thus raising school taxes significantly in that town, and from the town of Hurley, where voters are upset at the closing of West Hurley Elementary School.

No, the large parcel legislation and closing of the West Hurley school resulted in voters becoming aware that OCS is an incredibly high cost district. Combine those three elements, plus a very arrogant attitude on the part of the board and administration [issues over which the board had no control? Did a little green munchkin decide to adopt the large parcel? And the munchkin's fairy godmother decided to close the school?] and the people had to find their voice.

Something I really don't understand and (despite my education-related PhD and last rant in the newspaper on the subject) I'm not wild about educational budgeting, so I may never find out, but how is it that a austerity budget still involves an increase in spending, an increase in taxes, and yet all sorts of programs have to be cut and people fired?

On another subject, turns out we can't get satellite television. There is no clear path, across the street is a hill with trees, and it blocks the signal. So, we went back to Radio Shack, and swapped the installation for what we intended to buy originally, state-of-the-art rabbit ears. We get eight channels, three VHF: CBS, NBC, ABC and five UHF: public television, Fox, WB, and two small local channels - one is mostly advertising, one rebroadcasts some things from NBC. CBS, public television, Fox, and WB come in just as clear as with cable, the other five are pretty clear, if you play around with the rabbit ears a bit. That should be more than enough TV for anyone, and we are enjoying thinking about the savings.

Update: I lied. I couldn't resist doing a little digging on the school budget. I know the usual line is that teachers' salaries and benefits drive the increase, but I don't believe that really accounts for all of it, and it doesn't explain why OCS is such a high cost district. I mean, other districts have to pay out similar amounts in that category. So I read the 6/22/04 board meeting agenda. The same night as the vote - the trustees could not know the outcome (though they must have suspected it would fail again) and they approve over $200,000 in consultants for 2004-05? Yet they wring their hands and claim that all sorts of things have to be cut due to the austerity budget?

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