School Commissioners say no to Governor's cap

At their Tuesday, Feb. 13 meeting, the board passed a resolution that voiced their disagreement with the plan the Governor has proposed to control the growth of school spending by making it more difficult for school districts to raise their budgets by more than a modest annual increase. The resolution was drafted by Commissioner Fred Lane, chair of the boards finance committee. Lane commented after the meeting that as a person who grew up in Massachusetts, he remembers the negative impact on schools of Proposition 13 which capped school spending. He said, Its irresponsible to put an arbitrary number on a school system that is facing difficult issues. He pointed to the Catamount Health Plan which he said would impose an $80,000 hit on the Burlington system, not counting administrative costs.

We want to demonstrate that were making progress but we can have unfunded mandates, Lane said. The commissioners also discussed and approved a restructuring of the committees that distribute the workload of discussion and planning among the 11 members of the board. Historically there have been three committees including: finance, curriculum and policy, and technology.

The change they debated at their Feb. 13 meeting was to redistribute the workload, and add a new committee to fill a gap in the oversight of the goals of the board. The new committee, to be called the Agenda committee will be responsible for creating the agenda for each meeting, but moreover to keep an eye on the overall goals for the year, the big picture goals which are sometimes lost in the detail of monthly meetings. Members of the new committee will be the superintendent, the board chair, the committee chairs and the clerk of the board.

Another change is the separation of curriculum and policy into a Curriculum committee which will continue to review proposed and existing course content, and a Policy and Advocacy committee which will review the policies of the board on a prescribed schedule as has been the practice, but will also be active in advocating for the children of the district to ensure that they receive the education they deserve.

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