Open Letter to the SC and TC


Several months ago, at the beginning of the budget process, many of you touted a newfound collaborative relationship between the town and school department. I personally didn’t see much of a difference beyond a little extra transparency on the part of the superintendent, but any improvement in this regard is to be applauded.

Unfortunately, that goodwill seems to now be falling apart. The optics of last night’s budget hearing were simply awful. The town manager opened himself to significant criticism by proposing to tap undesignated funds to benefit the taxpayers while the school department refused to use significant unexpected savings to contribute from their unspent funds. How can this be called a collaborative relationship when the department which consumes 73% of town revenue is unwilling to budge one inch and is actually seeing their undesignated fund increase in a time of need?

Additionally, while the decrease in state aid for FY21 is substantial, it is the final year of the 10 year transition, and the following year will see no significant decrease. It will be relatively painless for the school department to replenish their undesignated fund in FY22 when the loss of state aid is no longer looming over our heads.

Note that none of these decisions will affect the operational budget and while I understand that this money is all technically connected, the optics of the town dipping into undesignated funds and preparing contingencies while the school district proceeds as usual is just terrible.

I hope that this disconnect is explored at tonight’s hearing.

Thank you for all of your service,
Jason Ralph

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