SHREWSBURY, Mass. — The Daily Voice accepts signed, original letters to the editor. Letters may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To The Editor:
When will the Shrewsbury Board of Selectmen and the Finance Committee make it clear to the School Committee and the school department that they must present realistic annual school budget proposals that 1) understand the financial limitations of the town and the state, 2) follow the guidelines provided to them in the Out Year Projection that the town manager issued a year ago, and 3) are consistent with the board's fiscal policy?
I should not have to point out to any member of the three committees that the economic environment remains poor, but evidently the members of the School Committee believe they are exempt from facing financial reality. But what I cannot understand is the reluctance of the selectmen and the Finance Committee to lay down the law to the School Committee.
At a three-board meeting back in 2011 School Committee members complained that the selectmen and the Finance Committee did not develop five-year financial plans. The Town Manager presented future year budget estimates in his Out Year Projection dated 2/1/2012. This projection allowed for a School Budget increase of 3 percent for FY2014 (note that the total budget projection for 2014 was still out of balance by a $357,000 deficit.) Then in October 2012 the selectmen issued fiscal policies indicating that it would not support an operating budget override. Yet the school department still presumed to develop a FY2014 School Budget that is 8.85 percent higher than FY2013! Meanwhile the Town Manager's recently released FY2014 Budget indicates he can support a School Budget increase of only 1 percent based on his current revenue estimates.
I won't now repeat all of the facts I have communicated to both the Board of Selectmen and the Finance Committee during past school budget cycles, such as unsustainable annual salary increases, the refusal to increase the ratio of classroom teachers relative to total school staff, and misleading data in school budget packages, other than to say that no one has refuted them.
The selectmen and the Finance Committee should publicly challenge the school department and the School Committee for presenting such an outrageous FY2014 school budget proposal.