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To the Editor:
With all the energy that surrounded school budget and Australian ballot discussions at Town Meetings last week, the one budget that was conspicuously unavailable for voter approval by any means was the Washington West Supervisory Union (WWSU) budget. It galls me that we do not have any opportunity to weigh in on the priorities and size of this budget. Our only recourse if we disagree with elements of the WWSU budget is to vote down individual school budgets, which I would not want to do.
Last year, the WWSU administrators were granted a very large pay raise (much higher than that given the teachers and school-level administrators in our district). At a time when our schools are pinching pennies and when many taxpayers in our towns continue to suffer from the effects of the 2008 crash, Irene, and other economic challenges, these salary increases were insensitive at best. Worse, they will now become the baseline for salary discussions with future administrators. In addition, there are other elements of the WWSU budget, such as adding a technology coordinator, that are costly. While these may all be decisions that the voters would approve of, we'll never know since we can't vote directly on this budget.
I would appreciate an explanation from anyone who knows how it came to be that the WWSU budget is not subject to public approval in the same manner as all the other school budgets. Meanwhile, I hope this will become a subject of discussion prior to our next budget cycle, because budget choices are not going to get any easier between now and then.