Ashburnham-Westminster school leaders may ask voters for overri...

School leaders say that if they cannot close a $630,000 budget gap by the end of the fiscal year, asking voters for a Proposition 2 1/2 override will not be a choice, but an obligation. Full Story
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Poppycock

Worcester, MA

#1 Apr 12, 2009
When the teachers union and the Superintendent of the school system give up a years' pay raise I might consider voting yes. Until then, you will continue to have my "NO" vote every time.

When people lose jobs, go without their own pay raises, have ridiculous escalations annually in their property tax payments (before any overrides), and have a lot of difficulty with their own essential needs - the school boards need to understand this. It is an outright insult to folks.

Everyone has to live within a budget in life, and the school district consistently wants to go above what they know they have coming their way EVERY year.

Time to wake up boys and girls. Can't wait for the school flyers to come home and to see the teachers getting students out carrying signs.
Roy

Gardner, MA

#2 Apr 12, 2009
Well they wont get my may tax bill paid in May, I need things for my family first!
No sports what so ever and Teacher layoffs like Boston and Worcestor. Only fair thing to do.
Also a freeze on teachers pay like Boston.
It is time for a new super one that KNOWS HIS staff.
like the 80000 a year special need teacher.
Things like this make it impossable to run on a budget.
Frustrated

AOL

#3 Apr 12, 2009
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
Albert Einstein

Just keep asking for overrides. Get the towns to pay more when state aid is reduced even though it isn't reduced to the school.
Concerned Ash-West Parent

Worcester, MA

#4 Apr 12, 2009
"As a school committee, the law dictates that we have to do everything we can to ask for what we need," Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School Committee Chairman David Christianson said.

Interesting how Mr. Christianson has either been vice chair or chair for so many of these override requests. He needs to understand the difference between a legal obligation to request an override and a moral one. The law does NOT dictate that a school committee must seek an override to support its proposed budget.

"But Christianson said he understands the negative perception that could be associated with asking for an override amid economic hardship. That, he said, is why the committee will not ask for an override 'unless we can truthfully say that we've exhausted every other option.'"

OPTION: The committee needs to sit down with the teacher's union and ask for some concessions. Salaries are the bulk of the school budget. Forgoing the scheduled pay raises and/or a freeze in step increases would close that gap in a heart beat.



Supporter of Education

Springfield, MA

#5 Apr 12, 2009
What I find funny that people have not brought up, but was in the article is the fact that many surrounding districts have not asked for overrides, why? Well the answer is right there, there are two factors, first, the Towns understand two things, that education is one of the most important aspects of a community so therefore fund the increases, and that uncontrollable costs are uncontrollable. Second, they are all multi-town districts. In a 5-Town District, there only needs to be 3 Towns to determine if more money is going to be allocated. The other two towns just have to deal with the consequences. In our District, with only two towns, the allocation is equally put on both Towns and both have to agree.

The major problem is the Townspeople want the great schools, they want the sports, the classes, and such, they just don't want to pay for it. The last time the School Committee was looking to cut activities, a Westminster Advisory Board member that was critical of the School Committee for asking for a large override, pleaded with the School Committee to keep extra-curricular activites in the schools and offer them for free. It shows that even the Advisory Boards don't have an understanding of the School Budget.
Jim

Gardner, MA

#6 Apr 12, 2009
Anyone considering becoming a Regional School District needs to understand that the Devil is in the details. Everyone will promote it as savings to local communities, but in the end you lose all control over your school, and you pay more and more and more....
Supporter of Education

Springfield, MA

#7 Apr 12, 2009
Jim wrote:
Anyone considering becoming a Regional School District needs to understand that the Devil is in the details. Everyone will promote it as savings to local communities, but in the end you lose all control over your school, and you pay more and more and more....
I love these type of people. How did you lose control and pay more and more? Unlike any other of the Town Departments, the School District has made more cuts than any Town Departments from the two towns combined. Up until last year, the School District was the only Department in the two towns that had layoffs. Both Towns have grown their budgets but the School District has cut theirs continually, so you haven't been paying more and more, at least not for education. And to your point of losing control, the Taxpayers have made that choice to cut the School Budget, so your point is?
Westminster Resident

Springfield, MA

#8 Apr 12, 2009
Why does the Sentinel only interview the Town Officials who always oppose any tax increase or in the case of Dennhey, has a personal issue with Dave Christianson? What about other members that don't have agendas, just opinions. They always try to find controversy rather than look for the real issues.
Tamatha

Gardner, MA

#9 Apr 12, 2009
People live in these towns for four years then move.
This is why the towns will never get anywhere.
This also pits towns against each other a losing deal all around.
This is bad for the values of the houses in these towns.
More Perceptive

Lancaster, MA

#10 Apr 12, 2009
Maybe it is time to try something new. Perhaps all of the school teachers should be cut for one year, and the parents MANDATED to teach their own children to the state standards, and report to the DESE. I guarantee you, most folks would come RUNNING back to the school system begging for the teachers to come back.The town people want their free babysitter....then don't want to pay for it. There's alot more to it, and teachers deserve alot more respect. They are doing alot more than teaching....they are raising our future for you.
The money problems (and corruption with your tax dollars) lie within the administration...not the teachers.(they are simply the scapegoat)
jack

Gardner, MA

#11 Apr 12, 2009
Yes lets try something new no freezes no cuts but LAYOFFS!
Boston and worcester cant be wrong.
Say What

Gloucester, MA

#12 Apr 12, 2009
Supporter of Education wrote:
<quoted text>
I love these type of people. How did you lose control and pay more and more? Unlike any other of the Town Departments, the School District has made more cuts than any Town Departments from the two towns combined. Up until last year, the School District was the only Department in the two towns that had layoffs. Both Towns have grown their budgets but the School District has cut theirs continually, so you haven't been paying more and more, at least not for education. And to your point of losing control, the Taxpayers have made that choice to cut the School Budget, so your point is?
I am amazed at the statement regarding the Schools having made layoffs before the towns, especially while the Schools have received increased funding the past few years and the towns are continually being leveled funded. Every time the Schools receives an increase of $1.00 they spend a $1.50. When they are short of the increase the following year, they go back for another override. The bottom line is the School District is living way beyond their means. Peroid. I am all for good education and having our School System in the 10%, but it must be within the confines of what the taxpayers can afford. If you do not like this statement then move to Weston, Wellesley, etc. where they can afford it. Why can't the School Committee Members and the Super get it through their thick heads we cannot afford their vision???? Out of 11 overrides in 9 years and only 2 are successful? As quoted by Mr. Christianson we have an obligation under state law.... The members of the School Committee have a obligation to start listening to the taxpayers. We have had enough. Read my lips, live within your budget and on the occasion that you are truly are in dire straights, we will listen to you and support you. You have now all become like Peter And The Wolf.....
Change

Gardner, MA

#13 Apr 12, 2009
I haven't seen the teachers or the Administrators make one sacrifice for the betterment of the school system.

Enough is enough.
Supporter of Education

Springfield, MA

#14 Apr 12, 2009
Say What wrote:
<quoted text>
I am amazed at the statement regarding the Schools having made layoffs before the towns, especially while the Schools have received increased funding the past few years and the towns are continually being leveled funded. Every time the Schools receives an increase of $1.00 they spend a $1.50. When they are short of the increase the following year, they go back for another override. The bottom line is the School District is living way beyond their means. Peroid. I am all for good education and having our School System in the 10%, but it must be within the confines of what the taxpayers can afford. If you do not like this statement then move to Weston, Wellesley, etc. where they can afford it. Why can't the School Committee Members and the Super get it through their thick heads we cannot afford their vision???? Out of 11 overrides in 9 years and only 2 are successful? As quoted by Mr. Christianson we have an obligation under state law.... The members of the School Committee have a obligation to start listening to the taxpayers. We have had enough. Read my lips, live within your budget and on the occasion that you are truly are in dire straights, we will listen to you and support you. You have now all become like Peter And The Wolf.....
Say What, feels like we have been here before. You continually say that wanting to be in the top 10% is great but the Schools have to live within their means and we cannot afford it. But if the Superintendent said we were shooting for the top 50%, you would be calling for his job. As for moving to Weston, Wellesley, etc. They support their school districts with increased funding to their schools so they don't need overrides. Also include the districts listed in the article, Nashoba, North Middlesex, Wachusett etc. But I guess that Rutland, Ashby, and Lancaster are so much better off then Westminster and Ashburnham, just like Weston and Wellesley. You just don't want to pay for education, but you want to benefit from it.
Supporter of Education

Springfield, MA

#15 Apr 12, 2009
Also, you claim that the schools gets increased aid from the State. On that point I cannot argue, but what kind of mandates do the Towns have from the State and Federal Governments. You want to argue increased aid but you don't want to tell the whole truth. That is that the School District has to meet many unfunded mandates on the State and Federal level and the Towns don't even come close to that. So they may get increased aid, but the cost of the mandates that the State and Feds require increases over the monetary increases they receive each year. How much does the Towns receive each year from the State and Feds, and what are the requirements on that money? But before you answer, what are your thoughts that the Town's Budgets have increased more than the Schools budgets over the last ten years? So who isn't living within their means?
Frustrated

AOL

#16 Apr 12, 2009
Get real. I got to speak to someone who was at the Special meeting with board chairmen the other night. Funny, they can make up the gap if the two towns come up with two and a half plus growth. Christianson and Zapantis are masters at playing the "shell game".
Keep it Fair

Ashburnham, MA

#17 Apr 12, 2009
All Westminster town employees were told there would be absolutely NO raises this year. DPW, Police, Fire and all other union and non-union employees wages have been frozen until economic times allow for a raise and they are OK with it. They understand the tough times we are ALL in and they are gratful to have jobs! Why can't the teachers follow suit and tighten their belts for the next couple years? Instead, they resort to hurting the parents and kids. They cut sports and other programs and make the kids suffer. I don't mean to clump all teachers together when I make this statement because I know there are a few that would freeze their salaries to keep everyone employed and student activities/programs running.
It's time for zero based budgeting for the Ash-West school district. Start from scratch and determine exactly what it costs to run the district without all the fat built into the budget. Absolutely NO override! They need to live within their budget like everyone else.
Poppycock

Worcester, MA

#18 Apr 12, 2009
More Perceptive wrote:
teachers deserve alot more respect.
It is not about respect. It is about understanding the greater picture.
More Perceptive wrote:
They are doing alot more than teaching....they are raising our future for you.
Ummmmmm, riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii iight.
More Perceptive wrote:
The money problems (and corruption with your tax dollars) lie within the administration...not the teachers.(they are simply the scapegoat)
And the teacher's unions are as corrupt as the managers and administrators of a school district. I agree that there are problems with the administrators, and there are way too many of them. A director for this, director for that, someone to look at this, someone to do that. More freaking administrators than are needed.
uck

South Yarmouth, MA

#19 Apr 12, 2009
i'm typically all for the ash-west school district. but this is getting to be a little too much.
Supporter of Education

Springfield, MA

#20 Apr 13, 2009
Keep it Fair wrote:
All Westminster town employees were told there would be absolutely NO raises this year. DPW, Police, Fire and all other union and non-union employees wages have been frozen until economic times allow for a raise and they are OK with it. They understand the tough times we are ALL in and they are gratful to have jobs! Why can't the teachers follow suit and tighten their belts for the next couple years? Instead, they resort to hurting the parents and kids. They cut sports and other programs and make the kids suffer. I don't mean to clump all teachers together when I make this statement because I know there are a few that would freeze their salaries to keep everyone employed and student activities/programs running.
It's time for zero based budgeting for the Ash-West school district. Start from scratch and determine exactly what it costs to run the district without all the fat built into the budget. Absolutely NO override! They need to live within their budget like everyone else.
Keep it fair, where is the "fat" in the budget? All these people claim there is "fat" in the School District Budget, well, lets here it. Give me proof! Maybe I would change my mind if someone could show me proof that there was "fat" in the budget.

Second, I agree with you regrading the teachers, but as far as I know that is considered negotiations and cannot be discusssed. I hope for their sake, they have spoken to the Teachers and other unions because that would make a lot of sense. But I assume we will not know if they have discussed things until an agreement is in place, but I can understand the frustration with that one.

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