2014-12-05 / Letters

Budget meeting felt like Santa’s list

To the editor:

The Nov. 20 workshop meeting of the school board was essentially the unofficial kickoff of the fiscal year 2016 budget season for the Scarborough School Department. At the meeting, eight or nine school principals and senior administrators took turns giving very brief summaries of their progress on the two-year improvement plan and the budget implications of their continued success in achieving those goals.

The meeting had a distinctly Christmasy feeling. The format was very much like the letter-to-Santa routine that kids of my generation followed. You know, in that handscrawled letter to the big guy at the North Pole you would highlight just how good you had been during the past year. And follow it up with a list of the latest toys from the glossy catalogs that you would really like to see under the tree on Christmas morning. All without trying to seem too greedy, of course.

It turns out that all of Scarborough’s school principals and senior administrators have been way over on the nice side of the naughty/nice continuum. And they all had fairly healthy wish lists for FY 2016: a new computer device for each high school student, a “school resource officer” for the Wentworth School (yes, a police officer at a school for third through fifth graders), but, most of all, more staff. Much more staff. It was difficult to ascertain just how many additional positions were included in the wish lists, but I would be surprised if it is fewer than a dozen. So look for another 10 percent plus increase in gross expenses when the first school budget proposal for FY 2016 is unveiled later this winter.

Unfortunately, Santa Claus will not be picking up the tab for these proposed additions to the school budget. But be of good cheer, fellow Scarborough taxpayers. You have 10 months before your first tax bill for FY 2016 will arrive. So there’s plenty of time to start putting aside some extra cash now for the increased bill. And, as one council member will surely remind you, the increase is less than the cost of a cup of coffee a day. Humbug.

Steve Hanly

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