West Hartford Forums

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Maybe the Axed Teachers Can Pick Up Your Leaves!

Posted by whforums on July 1, 2008

The town has cut about 2.5 million from the budget, almost 1.5 of which comes from the schools. We lose full time teachers from middle schools and from elementary schools and we lose two “TBA” high school classes (the courant says a total of 19 positions). Among other town services, we lose vacuum leaf collection (sum the details, people). Town republicans are pushing for union concessions, town democrats are calling those republicans Pollyannas (the next set of collective bargaining agreements ought to be a blast), and, to top it all off, the entire council is showing the courage it takes to vote along party lines.

The taxpayers association, showing the spine they didn’t show last year, will likely push for a second referendum (to be held on Sept. 30th, if necessary). It seems doubtless that they’ll get the signatures they need, but a new referendum could reorganize votes in interesting ways. “No” could pick up votes from citizens who agree with the budget as a whole but not the specific cuts that were made while losing votes from those citizens who simply wanted to see “some cuts.” “Yes” may also need to be concerned with potential “budget burn out” … the whole “if my vote didn’t matter the first time, will it really matter this time?” But “the research suggests” — and my gut says — this vote will be much closer. At the same time, my guess is that, unless the council ratchets up their rhetoric and threatens programmatic cuts, we may very well see a new “No” victory this September.

It seems that many who post here simply want “more transparency” in the budget process, and I share that concern. At the same time, how much progress has been made toward transparency in these past two referenda? I’m curious how often a vote for “No” is a vote for “greater transparency,” but I’m pretty steadfastly skeptical that it’s the best way to get that transparency.

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4 Responses to “Maybe the Axed Teachers Can Pick Up Your Leaves!”

  1. sujal said

    I think the transparency point you’re making is really the key thing… uncertainty breeds distrust — it’s very easy to manipulate ignorance or uncertainty (and, on many line items, I’d put myself in both categories) into a “no” vote.

    What kind of information are people looking for?

    Sujal

  2. sujal said

    PS. NOt that a No vote is unjustified per se, just that I’m not sure what the alternatives are…

  3. Robert said

    Personally, I’d like to see a clear breakdown of projected increases in salary and benefits for town employees in all categories. Calling for concessions from the unions makes little sense without knowing what increases we face.

    The cuts to the elementary school teaching staffs, resulting in class sizes of 28 students, are simply unacceptable.

  4. whforums said

    Poking around in the tubes, and I can’t even find salary schedules for teachers in WHPS (posted online for many other districts). If anyone has salary schedules they’d like to share (for public schools employees, town employees, whatever), I’m happy to post them …

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