In the wake of my refusal to second Ms. Donches proposed alternate budget, there have been some expected remarks that I'm trying to "look moderate" and "repair my image" in the wake of the damage from my foot-in-mouth Twittergate problem. Really, I think my opposition to her proposal was based on consistency.
I have always said I would oppose cuts to things like "Student Activities" and "Pupil Health", especially when a budget that successfully did not increase taxes was already in front of us.
Honestly, I do not believe that Ms. Donches cuts would have negatively impacted public education in East Penn or student opportunity, but to the voters, perception is reality (example: Because the lie has been repeated in the media thousands of times, most Pennsylvania Voters believe that Tom Corbett and the Legislative Republicans have cut education funding). For decades, the Jane Fretz/East Penn Education Association/Patrick Slattery/Wes Barrett/Citizens for Strong Communities crowd has harped on how Conservative school board candidates want to gut public education to avoid a tax increase at all costs. Of course, that's hogwash, at least when it comes to yours truly. Her budget proposal, to my mind at least, gave unnecessary fodder to people like Obama for America Activist Hillary Smith (aka "MacungieDems" or "Parent of 3").
The cuts she proposed to the individual line items could easily have been replaced at the discretion of the administration and with the consent of the Board of Directors from the millions of dollars in unspent, excess fund balance that appear at the end of every budgetary year. No student opportunities would have been denied as a result of her proposal.
I've been on the board long enough to see the Superintendent receive a bonus and pay raise while students were denied funding for a bus trip to a competition. A student approached me about it privately and I offered to bring it up at a meeting, but they decided that they would rather not cause public controversy. I honored that student's wish (they have since graduated).
The Emmaus Borough Council (with the same Fretz/Emmaus Mainstreet Partnership alliance) has played the same game. Patrick Slattery and his "Citizens for Strong Communities" successfully slandered budget hawk council candidates Giovanni Landi and John Donches two years ago, claiming that, if elected, those candidates (who would have been a minority on the Council at any rate) would cut community programs like the Concert in the Park summer series. Upon their election the Jane Fretz-Wes Barrett preferred candidates, Lee Ann Gilbert (R), Nate Brown (R), Brian Holtzhafer (D), and Jeff Shubzda (I) promptly tried to cut the summer concert program. Only determined action by long time community activist (and a member of the much maligned Concerned East Penn Taxpayers Association) Josephine Sadrovitz saved the concerts from the chopping block.
Because Ms. Donches (and yours truly), did not know what specifically was in some of the line items we proposed cutting, the Administration and their willing bobbleheads tried to attack and discredit us when I promise you, a majority of the other members didn't know what was in those line items either. That is done by design.
The Pennsylvania School Board Association tells School Boards to delegate budget decisions to the administration and the only REAL decisions the School Board directors should make is who to hire to be the "brains" of the organization. "Counting the meatballs" is to be left to the hired "experts". I remember Alan Earnshaw and Ann Thompson telling me about how they do business before I was sworn in for my first term.
That may be how the Wizards of Smart (Trademark Rush Limbaugh) think policy should be decided, but since I've been on the Board (and since Ms. Donches has been elected) we have been asking the administration to provide a budget with line by line spending, account codes, etc. We want to "count the meatballs" and be able to propose responsible budget cuts.
That is why the educrats oppose us so furiously every election cycle and slander right leaning candidates with every lie in the book...and I'll write more on their lies another day. If a Conservative majority is ever elected in East Penn, the way business is done will change and the lie that budget cuts cannot be made without destroying the quality of education will be exposed.
For now, I'll just have to hold the chief architect of this election strategy accountable: The East Penn Education Association. Their pay raises every year during economically depressed times are why taxes have gone up every year. Other cuts can surely be made, but the Union is the reason that Joe and Jane Taxpayer have less money in their pockets.
Board President Ballard said, behind the curtains at a debate two years ago "If you can't dazzle 'em with brilliance, baffle 'em with bullshit."
I prefer the truth