Democratic CT tax reform “bill includes changes in virtually every major tax – the income, sales, cigarette, estate and real estate conveyance taxes – along with the property tax credit ($1000). The bill also would create a state earned-income tax credit for the working poor, a controversial measure that has been opposed in past years by Republicans and conservative Democrats. About 90 percent of those paying the state income tax would see their taxes cut under the Democratic bill, while the stateâ€™s wealthiest 10 percent would expect an increase.” CT Local Politics
The budget increase in Academy tuition is final as it has come through their budget process and been voted on by the Board of Trustees and sent off to all of the sending towns. That increase is less than the budget increase proposed by the Woodstock BOE at this time, as has been noted by Mr. Wetzel repeatedly. However, what you (A Taxpayer) and Mr. Wetzel are referring to is the budget increase that the Board of Education has sent to the Board of Finance as of March 22. That budget is what the BOE believes is a needs based budget. Soon, the Board of Finance will cut the amount requested by the BOE. Ultimately, BOF will appropriate only that amount which it allows under its exclusive determination and not more than what Prop 46 allows. BOF has not calculated the Prop 46 limit yet even though they have met twice since BOE and BOS submitted their budgets. When everything is said and done, everyone will see that the amount that the Board of Education is allowed to spend under whatever BOF calculates to be the Prop 46 restriction will be substantially less than what you are now calling the BOEâ€™s increase. Only then would a comparison between the Academy budget increase and the BOE budget increase be meaningful. Talking about the BOEâ€™s current increase in its current form fails to acknowledge the normal process and what will inevitably be a smaller amount available to BOE when the Town votes on the final budget.
Iâ€™m not sure how you conclude that the Woodstock BOE proposed budget increase is against the will of the people. You may be referencing the two votes against repealing Prop. 46, but I would suggest that one must also consider the very close vote that almost resulted in a significant and needed amendment to Prop 46 recently. I am not suggesting that the will of the people does not matter because of state law. I have only noted that local law is subservient to state law, a basic principle of our governance. I donâ€™t understand your rationale that it should follow that the will of the sending towns should not matter to the Academy who are also acting under state law. Iâ€™ve argued that an arrangement with a private academy that prevents the sending townsâ€™ Boards of Education from performing their proper function under state mandates is an unlawful arrangement. I mentioned this yearâ€™s vote of two of the sending towns and majority of its paying customers against the Academy budget, as evidence that counters the Academyâ€™s claim that their governance model protects the interests of the sending towns. It obviously did not do so for a majority of the sending towns this past year. I donâ€™t believe I argued against the Academyâ€™s position by noting that the state mandates a proportional educational opportunity for all students. Youâ€™ve said that you have no problem with disproportionate funding to the Academy. I never said that the state mandates that.
When I agreed with Bowman when he said that it is not uncommon for high schools to spend more per student than K-8, that really is not my point. We are dealing with the effect of such a practice in Woodsock which, due to the artificial impact of Prop 46 restricting spending, directly impacts on the K-8 system. It seems that when the Academy expands, the K-8 system contracts. That impact has been to give the K-8 system a smaller piece of the pie when the Academy takes a larger piece. There must be a limitation exercised upon that impact if sending town Boards of Education are going to be able to fulfill their state mandated obligation to provide a substantially equal educational opportunity to all of the students under their charge.
Under our law, locally elected Boards of Education decide what is in the best interest of the students. I donâ€™t know what evidence you have to support your premise that there a trust issue in town toward â€œthose who perceive themselves as The Decidersâ€? because you didnâ€™t state who they were. If you believe it is the Board of Education, there is a mechanism to change one-third of those Deciders every two years at election time, if one is unhappy with their decisions. That would do nothing to change the state mandate for the new Board members that the former Board members were also required to follow. If you believe that there is a trust issue with the Woodstock Academy Board of Trustees (and why wouldnâ€™t there be when they put Trustees on their Board – Mr. Livernois, and Mr. Wetzell – who have been ousted from public office by the local will of the people, as you call it) then you are out of luck, as there is no accountability of those folks to the public.
Board of Education members are elected by local residents, to serve as agents of the state. You have made your beliefs known about the impact of the state upon our local situation. State law authorizes the Board of Finance to determine the amount that a Board of Education has available for education of its students. In Woodstock, that is limited by Prop. 46. Once that occurs, the Board of Education has a state mandate, to allocate funding in such a way that all students receive a substantially equal educational opportunity. But, you have been willing to give the Academy a free pass on the effects of the local financial reality. I am not willing to do the same. I truly believe that the constitutional mandate that all students be provided a substantially equal educational opportunity has been rightfully decided by our Connecticut courts in numerous instances. I think we should endeavor to make the funding for all Woodstock students equitable so that the impacts of disproportionate funding to our high school are not paid for by the deprivation of a substantially equal educational opportunity to the students in our lower grades, most of whom, by the way, will someday find themselves as high school students at the Academy.
The local systems Ms. Wholean referred to will not lead to a solution of the conflict I have identified. She has clearly demonstrated a bias to Woodstock Academy in most of her involvement with educational issues since being elected to office. Her comments in that regard was intended to bury the problem locally, not solve it. She is perfectly satisfied to let the lower grades pay the price for a restriction on education funding. Mr. Breenâ€™s proposal was wholly consistent with existing state law not superceded by it and this is borne out by the fact that, according to Representative Alberts, legislation was drafted in a way that was substantially consistent with Breenâ€™s proposal.
Woodstock has shown, with its former â€œTri-Boardâ€? effort and now this recent joke of MFTFATWHATEVERF, that these group efforts lead to nothing but hot air. Why not make the elected officials do what they were elected to do as defined under law. All of the so-called self designated goals of the Mwhatever are already the responsiblities of Boards of Finance under law. Wouldnâ€™t it be nice if the BOF just did its job.
While I agree that there is room in our town budget to allow for a greater portion of funding to go to education, (perhaps 80:20, but the relative needs should really control that) that would really be a short-term fix. Sooner or later Woodstockâ€™s unique restriction on funding would cause the new allocation to be unworkable and and the will of a high school that is publically funded, but gets to be called privately endowed, would force the same impact on the public school system. We need more than a short-term fix.