Equal cost per student is cheapest, easiest path

To the Editor:

If you think that Hollis residents are rich, just ask how many people have put money in the jar at the door for the school.

We have been told to save for our retirement. But, how many of us have saved such a large sum of money that we are all set for retirement and can eat and afford medical care for the remainder of our lives?

Face it. According to The Nashua Telegraph front page of Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014, the Reapportionment Committee has decided that Brookline should get a 38 percent cost per student discount from Hollis’ cost per student.

When Brookline residents bought a house in Brookline, they thought that they were getting a really good deal. They thought that they were getting a very nice house in a pretty New England residential town at a price that was much less than the price they would have paid for the same house in Hollis, the town next door.

They were right. The price they paid for their house was good. What they had not thought about was the fact that Brookline’s tax structure was very different from Hollis’ tax structure. They quickly learned of their mistake when they got their property tax bills. Because of the low industry composition of Brookline taxable property, their property tax rate was higher than the Hollis property tax rate. Therefore, their property tax amounts were higher than they would have been had they bought a house in Hollis. This came as a really nasty surprise to the Brookline homeowners who thought they were getting away cheap for housing costs.

The Hollis Brookline Reapportionment Committee caved in to Brookline anger over their frustrated fantasy of cheap housing by recommending that Hollis taxpayers pay a lot more for Hollis students than Brookline taxpayers pay for Brookline students. Those few of us who attended committee deliberations heard an outburst from one of the Brookliners consisting of bragging about his $750,000 Brookline house and complaining about high property taxes. His solution to his mistake was to chant “Hollis pays more – Brookline pays less” while drumming on the committee table in time with his chanting.

After the lame reasoning and piteous whining had died down, the intimated committee recommended to the school board and Hollis selectmen that Hollis be charged more for a Hollis student than Brookline for a Brookline student.

For many years, both towns have paid the same amount per student for their students. (This is what the 100 percent ADM option translates to in plain English.) This is as fair as you can get, because students from both towns get the same education from the co-op high school. Why should one town’s student pay more or less than the other town’s student?

And yet, this inequality is what the HB Reapportionment Committee recommended that Hollis taxpayers put up with. Nonsense! Let’s not sign up for this insanity! Stick with the current fair method of equal cost per student, called “100 percent ADM” by the committee.

Hollis selectmen want to do away with the SAU 41. If that happens, Brookline will have to build a new high school that will cost 50 to 60 million dollars. That will really sock it to the Brookline taxpayers. Brookline’s asking for a 38 percent discount on their cost per student is ridiculous. Try asking for that next time you go shopping for goods and services. See how fast you get shown to the door.

Compared to a new high school or soaking Hollis for Brookline expenses, keeping the current fair method of equal cost per student (100 percent ADM) is the cheapest and easiest path for the future.

Basil Mason