Letter: Hold out for right-sized high school
To the editor of THE EAGLE:
At the Great Barrington annual town meeting May 5, I voted for the school budget only because I knew cuts would be made to have the greatest impact on the students. How-
ever, when the school operational budget exceeds the town operational budget there is something inherently wrong.
We will never get the operating budget under control until we correct the fiscal inequities created by the large portion of choice-in ($5,000 each) and tuition-in ($7,500 each) students in our district. It costs more than $17,000 to educate each student. I know there is a lot of talk about needing these subsidized students to defray overhead, but that would not be necessary if our schools were "right-sized" for our school population, which is not projected to increase.
This situation has continued for 10 years during which time none of our officials have taken steps to correct it. In fact, the tuition for the tuition-in students had not even been negotiated for 10 years. It was done, under pressure, for next year for a meager 3 percent and 6 percent increase. We need to move toward a termination of additional choice-in students and full reimbursement by the tuition-in districts.
The bureaucracy will not correct this gross inequity for the taxpayers of Great Barrington unless they are forced to. The only way to effect this change would be to refuse to pass the high school renovation until a plan is presented for a "right-sized" school. It may hurt in the short run but to do nothing is to endorse the present status-quo situation.
I would rather pay for my own appropriately sized school than have the state's "free money." With free money comes strings. I would have thought we would have learned that from the Main Street renovation.
The recent modest reductions in the cost of the high school renovation included the elimination of celestory windows and an indoor greenhouse. They should not have been in there in the first place and I am sure there are other "nice to have but can't afford" items in this renovation, just like we all have in our personal budgets.
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