While there might be temptation in some circles to blame the Region 16 referendum vote as the reason for two failures of the school budget, people should remember a referendum is simply a method of voting. A budget fails or passes on its own merits and whether those paying taxes believe the spending is fair, necessary and they are getting value for their hard earned tax dollars.
Ms. Cretella opines any new cuts will be damaging to our kids. At this point, that may be true if done by design. The temptation faced by Superintendent James and the Board of Ed is whether or not they will cut in areas meant to inflict pain on students in order to create anger in parents, or to defer more maintenance which will be more costly in the long run. Just as the Obama administration elected to cut air traffic controllers to inconvenience the public and White House tours to disappoint children, Region 16 will have similar choices to make.
An article heading in the May 29 Republican American announced the New England unemployment rate dipped, but Connecticut’s unemployment rate remains the highest in the region. The reported unemployment rate in Connecticut remains a stubborn 8 percent, but the true unemployment rate including those who have moved out of state or have given up looking for work is estimated to be nearly triple that number.
Another article in the May 30 Republican American states half the homes sold in Connecticut in the first quarter of 2013 were distressed sales. The long awaited recovery seen in many parts of the country is largely bypassing Connecticut due in large part to excessive taxes forcing businesses, seniors and new college graduates to leave Connecticut. Worse, as the taxes on our homes in Beacon Falls and Prospect grow higher each and every year, they become less saleable and deter potential home buyers from considering our towns as a place to put down roots.
Ms. Cretella further states “I honestly don’t know where we’re going to cut.” If that’s true, she needs to resign as chairwoman of the Board of Ed allowing someone who is more creative and innovative to be appointed. Region 16 has reached the point where businesses and families have been for a long time; they must do more with less. Taxpayers have been squeezed to the breaking point supporting union wages, their Cadillac health care plans, and their pension plans which are many millions of dollars in arrears; pension plans which the average worker can dream of but will never have.
Once again I implore Superintendent James and the board to neither cut popular student classes or activities, nor to defer maintenance items which will cost more if delayed. Instead they should look closely at non-certified support staff in Region 16. Many believe there are far too many secretaries and IT support staff needed for the shrinking student population. A support staff of approximately 200 employees for approximately 200 teachers is without question too large for the region. If the board disagrees, I recommend a consultant be brought in to assess the situation. I would also ask the board to consider outsourcing the entire IT Department. There are companies that enjoy economies of scale which could do the job remotely at a lower cost and could help Region 16 accelerate the rollout of technology which could further drive down costs.