People unhappy with school budget

Well, here we go again, a school board forced to look at paring its budget because voters aren’t happy.

In this case, at least, the Souhegan Cooperative School Board budget actually passed in the March vote, but it was a narrow victory and it was won only because Mont Vernon brought in enough yes votes to save it. We’re not sure what that says about Amherst voters, other than that they don’t like something about Souhegan spending.

One thing they’re going to look at is advanced placement courses and while we are certain that Souhegan board members are fans of AP, as well they should be, the prospect of them even looking is scary because once looking begins, there is always somebody who wants to take looking to the ultimate level, which is cutting.

Souhegan officials say they want to make AP courses more efficient, perhaps even sharing them with Hollis Brookline High School, a creative suggestion and one certainly to be preferred over cutting any AP courses.

But of course that’s not all they’re talking about. Officials have asked the superintendent of schools to figure out what a 5 percent budget decrease — $904,000 — would be like. Superintendent Adam Steel said it would mean looking “at what will we not do that we do today.”

And that is always concerning to us.

We have great faith in school officials, believing that the budgets they present represent the funding they really need, of course, some hopes attached. But we believe they don’t attach “hopes” willy nilly, that they see such requests as things that would better the learning experience. And when we get right down to it, that’s exactly what they’re supposed to do.

It is no longer reasonable to think that what was good 20 years ago, or even 10, is enough in today’s world. Kids need to learn more and more just to get by now. It isn’t enough to know algebra anymore. What was good enough for Mom and Dad isn’t going to help Johnny and Jenny thrive.

Defeating school budgets has been something of a past time around here ever since Senate Bill 2 ballot voting came to the fore. It’s much easier to vote no in the privacy of a booth than it is to stand up at Town Meeting and say, “Our kids don’t need this. Let’s cut it.”

Souhegan’s budget survived, barely, but the school board got the message – people aren’t happy.

We just wonder if, should we ask them, they could articulate why they aren’t.

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