Not long ago the Merrimack School board made an unprecedented move. In the shrinking shadow of declining enrollment, they decided to cut staff. That’s right teachers. But in the intervening weeks since the plan was submitted there has been a change of heart. Call it “Budget Cutter’s Remorse.” Or more likely, the union and the towns’ grow government first lobby applied enough local pressure to convince the weak links on the school board to put the teachers back in the budget.
It doesn’t end there. The school budget committee I am told was rife with hi-jinks designed to work the money back into the budget and get the teachers back on the payroll for next year. But by a vote of 7-6 that effort failed. I’m still looking for more specifics, but it demonstrates a full court press to avoid any reductions in dues payers.
The Merrimack school budget is already bursting compared to similar towns. The per pupil cost against the total budget was up over 14k the last time I looked. Comparable towns spend thousands less per student with similar results. So with an expected decline in student population, news of a staff cut was sweet music to my ears. But that’s changed.
The union and administration will be at the March Second School Board deliberative session with a mission to get those cuts erased, and keep the staff where it was, despite declining numbers of students. Proof that it’s not about enrollment numbers, or class size, or the quality of education, it’s about protecting union jobs taxpayers have to pay for, and leaning on the public’s representatives to protect those jobs even in a declining economy.
It is imperative that the residents of Merrimack get to the March 2nd meeting and make their voices heard.