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All my bragging about the board and still when it comes to budget season – this is WORK.  It’s hard.  There is hardship inherent in conversations about money.  These frank dialogues have a tendency to create chaos in the midst of the smoothest waters.  Our board family is no different than yours when it comes to these moments – we do the best we can in the moment. 
Last night (April 12th) we had an engaging board meeting.  We adopted the budget for the coming school year and have allowed our administration to begin posting the legal notices and creating the public presentations that will deliver more information at the next board meeting leading to the community vote on May 15th.  We need to be applauding the efforts of our board budget committee (Ed Magin, Phil Wagner, Cliff Parton and John Boogaard) as well as  recognizing the hard work in supplying research, data and information from our administration & staff – “Thank you” is insufficient.
All that being said I want to share some view from the board table.  Every budget season brings along a new set of issues to be examined.  AND, every board looks at the budget with a different perspective (many times there are new eyes from one budget season to the next).  We are 9 individuals charged with working toward consensus on MONEY.  We are charged with being fiscally responsible while being mindful that we are dealing with the education of OUR children.  This is the use of public monies. Yet this is personal.  It would be a disappointment to me if people did not believe in the personal nature of this BUSINESS. 
Budget meetings that bring tears, student led speeches...are challenging.  The personal erodes at the business side of the work required.  We look directly into the FACE of the staffing to enrollment “ideas”.  Leaving with a sense of personal responsibility for the loss of jobs, the change in structure, the risk of program,…this is not business as usual.  These times are the worst for me as a parent, taxpayer and board member.  Friends are in the audience, peers are calling us, bearing witness to the conflicts and taking the proper time to process is difficult.  There is a safety net - The safety net is in that we are informed.  We work together, gathering our strengths and we do ask the tough questions.  We weigh everything and our information comes from different sources at each committee and full board level.  We convene to share the knowledge, seek to share the information that led us to sound decisions.   The discussions you witness during board meetings are so that we can leave feeling comfortable that we have examined everything together.  Many items will be revisited.  Things are not open & shut. We are guided by the experts in the trenches.  The board of education does not suggest the hiring or layoff of anyone.  Our task is to decide what budget will be publicly voted on and we are informed of the best plans being presented by the team.  This is the piece I need to underline, bold, and highlight.  The board of education does not want to lose any teachers of value.  The board of education doesn’t want to layoff any staff that works hard for our students and community.  We do not want to cut positions, impact student achievement and risk anything!  We work within the system we have.  We seek to do the right thing in a sometimes “wrong” situation.  In our current economy and for the benefit of the community we are responsibly staffing to enrollment.  This is necessary and possible.  Teacher layoffs are unfortunately rooted in issues of seniority and this is the rub.  We do lose good teachers.  We do not have a choice.  Public perception and yes, some historic board action or harsh headlines may lead you to believe that a board can dictate and reinstate and redirect staff like chess pieces.  This SHOULD NEVER be the case.  We must adhere to the oftentimes lamentable system we are confined to.  That is a risk.  We may lose good teachers and sometimes we are left with those that we recognize are not doing as much as someone else would.  My children are impacted – yours are impacted.  We know this.  This is an unfortunate truth that the board deals with – and NOT just during budget season.  & we will not dictate to our knowledgeable team.  We will work together to develop a plan that serves our students BEST while understanding the risks – not ignoring them, not hiding them but understanding that we are working to change a flawed system from within.  We have to hold this belief to do this work. 
At this time we believe we are presenting our community with the best possible budget given all the information from the best resources.  Please trust that those you’ve elected to the board work diligently, and deliberately to be certain that our children are being offered every opportunity.  We look forward to seeing many at the budget presentation on April 27th where we will further address the tax levy of 2.9%, our use of $600,000 of reserves and staff changes.  Call any board member to be heard – we’re listening.


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