Should School Budgets Be Equal?

What does fair mean when it comes to education?

After a long and heated debate on both sides at Tuesday night's West Tisbury Annual Town Meeting, the Up Island Regional School District (UIRSD) budget was approved. In the end, the people of West Tisbury decided they did not want to reduce the budget by $750 per student, even though the UIRSD budget is by far the highest per pupil on the Island, and one of the highest per pupil in the state.

In order to meet the proposed new budget, the school would have to make significant sacrifices, such as cutting teachers and programs. Roughly speaking, the reduced budget would have saved about $50 in savings per $750,000 property. Parents overwhelmingly decided it just wasn't worth it.

For us Vineyard parents—and parents everywhere, I'm sure—the debate brings up another question: What is fair when it comes to student spending? Should one school get more per student than another? And if the scales are not balanced, does it make sense to lessen the amount given to those schools who are currently receiving more per student, or does it mean that the amount in those other schools should be raised?



Correction: This article originally stated that the graphs included were created by the Up Island Regional School District. In fact, they are the work of West Tisbury town accountant Bruce Stone.

Vanessa Czarnecki April 14, 2011 at 01:49 AM
Pat, great job leading the meeting last night! Nice to see you on Patch.
Mathea Morais April 14, 2011 at 02:43 AM
As a Chilmark resident with kids at the West Tisbury school, I find myself confused at times as to how all of this comes out in the wash. Keep all of these amazing comments coming!
Dionis Montrowl April 14, 2011 at 02:56 PM
Susanna--I agree with you about Dan Cabot's presentation. I too, thought his whole approach was deliberately to tug at heartstrings. Messy and overwrought, and of course he went immediately to cutting programs, without even a suggestion of possible administrative economies. I think the FinCom's reasons were pretty clear: This is a tough economic time, and the school budget is eating an ever-increasing percentage of the town budget. By the way, no one really commented on why teachers get a 2 percent increase in a year when neither social security nor federal pensions got any cost of living increase.
Dionis Montrowl April 14, 2011 at 02:57 PM
Pat, I agree that you did a super job as moderator. Bless you for having the patience of Job.
Nicole Cabot April 15, 2011 at 12:04 AM
I am amazed at the quality of our children's education at the West Tisbury School. "playing the child card" is a funny thing to say when we are talking about our children. What other card was he supposed to play? I would fight with every breath I have to keep funding our schools properly. Cut other things in our town. Let the teachers keep doing the brilliant job they do each day.


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