As I See It
Friday, January 7, 2010

The conspicuous silence of Keith Allard

Well, unfortunately, here they go again.

The school board (again this year) is not happy with the Budget Committee's reductions to the requested school budget.  So what are they doing this time around?  Same as they do year after year: claiming all sorts of paraprofessionals and teachers will be losing their jobs, elimination of programs, yada, yada, yada...

This year, they've predicted 36 job losses, including 7.5 teachers and a guidance counselor at the high school, one special education teacher at Maple Avenue Elementary and two world language teachers at Mountain View Middle School.  And their claims don't stop there.  They've also predicted elimination of a school resource officer at the high school, as well as one administrator, three custodians and several paraprofessionals district-wide, and they say the reductions would also eliminate the districtís elementary strings program and Mountain View Middle Schoolís world languages program.

Surprisingly, they haven't also predicted a town-wide famine.  At least not yet.

Anyone who has taken the time to actually look at the adjustments made to the school budget (visit for details) by the Budget Committee knows full well that the school board is, once again, engaging in expertly-crafted fear-mongering.  Some would call them flat-out liars.  Others would attribute their claims to a deeply-rooted sense of entitlement, whereby the school board feels it must receive every dime it demands, or our entire education system will collapse.

Whatever the case, there's no denying that numbers the school board is using this year to scare residents into thinking all these teachers and programs will disappear are, indeed, impressive.  

But I have a single number I think is even more more impressive than all those school board numbers.  

That number is 'zero', to wit:

  • ZERO:  The number of teacher positions the Budget Committee eliminated at the high school;
  • ZERO:  The number of guidance counselor positions the Budget Committee eliminated at the high school;
  • ZERO:  The number of special education teacher positions the Budget Committee eliminated at Maple Ave Elementary;
  • ZERO:  The number of world language teacher positions the Budget Committee eliminated at Mountain View;
  • ZERO:  The number of school resource officer positions the Budget Committee eliminated at the high school;
  • ZERO:  The number of paraprofessional positions the Budget Committee eliminated district-wide;
  • ZERO:  The number of dollars cut from the districtís elementary strings program;
  • ZERO:  The number of dollars cut from Mountain View Middle Schoolís world languages program.

Those zero numbers above are not something I concocted.  They are factual.  So when considering the school board's claims otherwise, you should finally be getting the picture - can you say "well-oiled propaganda machine"?

This maneuvering by the school board should come as no surprise to anyone, especially since we see it and hear it every year.  But there was a conspicuous silence this year during the Budget Committee's deliberations on the school budget, and that silence came from none other than school board chairman Keith Allard.

Allard was present when the Budget Committee adjusted over 250 lines in the school budget, so he knows full well none of those lines were related in any way to the claims they make above.  And as the committee deliberated, Allard was sitting at the table with the rest of us reviewing each and every proposed adjustment.

Yet he said nothing.

The school board is now complaining about reductions that they say were made to contractually obligated or legally mandated line items, like funds for professional development, teacher tuition, and out-of-district tuition payments for special education students.  If that's true, why didn't Allard bring this up to the committee?

The school board is also complaining about reductions that could affect the school district's accreditation.  If that's also true, why didn't Allard bring this up to the committee as well?

Why did Allard remain completely silent during these budget discussions?  Why didn't he point out these supposed show-stoppers before the committee finalized its budget?

I can't wait to hear his answer - if he has one.  I have a theory as to why he kept quiet, but I'll reserve that for another column.

In any case, Allard and the school board are now working to convince us that the reductions to their proposed budget must be offset by eliminating regular teachers, special ed teachers, world language teachers and paraprofessionals, not to mention a school resource officer whose salary is considerably offset by payment received from New Boston and Dunbarton for the position.

If you stop and think about it, what the school board is really saying is that secretarial, custodial, maintenance and bloated administration budgets are really the sacred cows, and will be preserved at the cost of our teachers and paraprofessionals.

To the school board, I say this:  If you want a few more bucks for your professional development lines, then move it from your administration lines and your other 'fluff' items.  In the meantime, stay away from our teachers - it is they who educate our children, not you or your administrators.  Most importantly, it is we who pay those teachers their well-earned salaries.  Not you.

Leave those salaries alone, just like the Budget Committee did.




Guy Caron can be reached via e-mail at:

Past Columns by Guy Caron  >>>


DISCLAIMER:  The opinions expressed by Mr. Caron are not necessarily those of the Goffstown Residents Association or its members.

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