To The Daily Sun,
No matter which side of the school budget and possible cuts to it one might be on, no one is against the education or the future of our children. The difference we have lies in what our children need the most and how to get it.
Lately there have been letters to the editor as well as letters being sent to the City Council, all on behalf of saving the child care program and/or overriding the tax cap. Unfortunately, it has taken on a nasty tone. There always seems to be a coordinated effort of a specific group behind special concerns whenever there is a call for cutting the budget. This year it is the child care center. Emotions run high and it has been suggested the council override the tax cap. They all start out saying their children go, or have gone to, Laconia schools, so that is where I will start.
Besides being a city councilor, I am a mother of four children who went through Laconia schools and graduated from there, one as class valedictorian of the Class of 1975, another daughter was in the Honor Society, a son went on to Bryant College and had a successful business life, and another son participated in all sports. We struggled, like most people in Laconia, with both parents working full-time to provide for them. So, education and sports were important to us and the Laconia system did well by them. I have no fight with education or sports. But, at what cost?
To override the tax cap is a serious action, one which will have consequences all over the city. Should it be for 20 children at the Huot Day Care Center, 16 being full-time, and nine of the 16 from outside Laconia. Shouldn't it take a major project that affects the entire city to override the tax cap rather than the few when there are reliable day care centers available throughout the area?
The tax cap has kept the city in good financial condition and without it spending would have been out of control. I was elected 11 years ago and opposed the tax cap which was passed the same year I was elected. Once you are a councilor you learn about revenues and expenditures, state and federal cuts, the wants and needs of every city department, and you realize that you are there to safeguard the people who elected you and give them services at every level without imposing impossible tax rates.
Just as a reminder, under the tax cap, the city approved and built the new middle school at a cost of $24,497,000. Following that, in 2010, the council voted to renovate and add additional space to the Huot Center for $9.5 million, with the city's share of $2.375 million. Following that, the city committed to another $6 million, interest free money for renovations to high school and programs that were approved but didn't fit into the original Huot plans. Most went to the $5 million football field. An additional $1.6 million followed for more needs of the high school renovations.
The city also pays our teachers, administrators, principals, and coordinators very well, many of whom actually make more than the fire chief.
I think the schools do very well under the tax cap.
At the same time the city side of the budget has cut many programs and delayed many others so that the majority of the tax cap money goes to the school system — 75 percent of it.
The council has many public hearings, most of them unattended by anyone from the public. When the budget comes up, there is no one there, not even those now protesting council's judgement. Come to meetings, express your thoughts, ask questions, and listen to what else is going on in the city. You will hear reasons for allowing some things and not others. You will understand that the city has cut many programs that the city needs as well.
Councilor Brenda Baer
- Category: Letters
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