I write this as one member only of the five-member Williamstown School Board. The headlines are alarming: If your local districts don’t hold down budget increases the statewide property tax rate will expand by as much as 5 cents, and this does not include any local portion of the education tax.
School boards are in “budget season,” and there is no better time than right now to engage your local boards in discussions about why costs are increasing and what can be done to ameliorate or even, if possible, reverse the increases in education spending.
Make no mistake, the challenges are daunting: huge increases in insurance premiums, federal and state mandates related to the Common Core and No Child Left Behind, special education responsibilities, and the usual inflation will be driving expenses. Our sources of revenue will be fewer than in the recent past as federal and state funds designed to assist with mandates shrink or disappear altogether, and that means more property taxes.
Our public schools are required by law and public expectation to provide the highest quality education to all students regardless of individual situation and need, but we are often placed in a position of balancing that mandate with fiscal reality. It really is up to you, the individual community member, to be informed and inform. I hope all interested Williamstown residents will attend the next several regularly scheduled school board meetings (the second Tuesday of the month at the school library) and help us give direction to the administration in developing the best possible budget for the next school year. The education of the young adults and children in our lives literally depends on it.
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