To The Daily Sun,
In 2013 the average worker's wage increased just 2.1 percent and Social Security payments increased only 1.7 percent. The inflation rate was 1.5 percent. Yet, if the Winnisquam School Board, administration, and some voters have their way, Northfield's property tax-based payment to the school district will increase 12 percent. Next year's budget will be built on that unsustainable increase. How much more can you afford to pay?
Do you expect to receive a 12 percent raise this year? I don't. My earnings expectations are grounded in reality. But our School Board and administration seem to live in a different world than I do, a world where I'm just a compliant cow with an infinite supply of milk.
In my world I have to earn the money they'll ask us to spend at the district meeting. There's nothing infinite about my earning power, and no union shields me from labor market realities. I have to produce and show good results every year — results measured in my annual assessment. My compensation is based on my performance, my company's performance, and the labor market.
That arrangement is my choice, but pardon me for feeling a bit put out when I'm asked to spend more of my earnings to fund a school system that continues to do a poor job in its primary mission yet continues to advance one solution: More money. What part of "unsustainable path" do our school leaders not understand? Despite increasing budgets, we own one of the worst-performing elementary schools and are near the bottom in NECAP scores statewide.
What new ideas have our board or administration advocated over the past 10 years? Will the new teacher contract look significantly different than the last one, or will it follow a similar degree/time-in-job model that makes teaching different than most white-collar jobs? The current arrangement ratchets up labor costs, especially when they justify compensation based on regional averages.
What metrics will they provide showing that proposed technology spending will yield results? What quantitative improvements will they promise us over the next three years? Will they hold themselves accountable — really accountable — for those promises? I remember the promises made when we bought into "everyday math."
Our district's own Value Statement promises a return on investment. How are they measuring it? What data is being collected and analyzed? How many local businesses who hire our students are surveyed every year? How many colleges and other post-secondary education programs are surveyed? How are we learning and changing based on that feedback? What new initiatives are we participating in?
Districts across the state and the country are trying new approaches to education, and there's no reason why Winnisquam couldn't as well. The time for the "more money" solution has come to an end. We need new ideas and new leadership before we tax ourselves out of our homes.