31 January 2015

what a difference a year makes

Last year at this time the town of Newmarket was in a very heated battle. Should we build a new Junior/ Senior High School or do nothing? The town voted to do nothing. Not of course that that is a surprise for those of us who have lived here for any amount of time. You can read about the start of this debate here. To catch up on all the gory details of the fight we undertook, search this blog using the words- vote/ March 11/ Jr/ Sr High School or new school. I was quite vocal and passionate about this issue and still am to this day.

However, as the year has come and gone and we are staring at a new deliberative session, new concerns are being voiced in town. Keep funding a bus that helps the home bound elderly get around or not and should we introduce a full day kindergarten program to our school. Both seem to be items that would not be a big deal in other towns. But here in Newmarket they are very big deals. It all comes down to the bottom line and how it will impact the home owners tax bill.

This brings us to today's deliberative session.

The town portion went very quickly. So quickly in fact, hubby and I had time to grab a bite to eat before the school portion. Love that!! The only issue that was discussed was the funding of an elderly bus. Something that the town of Newmarket has been doing for a very long time. In the end, it will be on the ballot and I am pretty darn sure it will be voted on in a positive way. The total impact on my taxes for this funding?? $.01. Yes you read that correctly- one cent per $1000 of my tax bill. I think I got that.

The reason it was even a debate? The people of this town are always looking for ways to cut programs and save money. To this end, our town administrator (who does rock in this girls opinion) was trying to do whatever necessary to save money and removed this funding. Not because he doesn't like the elderly. Not because he doesn't think we need this bus. But because the town of Newmarket is already giving the entity which runs the bus a pretty substantial tax break on their properties in our town- they have two. Yes the town is federally mandated to do this as they are a non profit organization but once again the town administrator is charged with keeping us running a sound budget and he was trying to do what we as tax payers asked him to do. He was not sneaky about it. He stated to the town council where the cut was coming from and why he removed it. No one questioned it as it was a bit over $10,000 off of the budget. That always makes people happy to hear they are saving.

In the end, after numerous registered citizens came forward to speak, this warrant article will go to the voters to decide if they do in fact want to keep it when we vote on March 10, 2015. It is in your hands Newmarket.

The school portion of the deliberative session. Again so much different than last year. The bleachers were practically empty. Although there were more citizens present than had shown up for the town portion. It was nothing like it was last year. Last year, we were all squeezed into those bleachers like sardines. People were standing in line to voice their concerns about the building of a new school. It was a heated debate.

Not this year. 

Our biggest concern this year is whether to start up a full day kindergarten program in our school. To do this, the school would need to hire one full time teacher as well as four full time aides to help the kindergarten teachers. Our class sizes would be going from 13-18 to about 20-23 depending on the enrollment each year. The best part?? We could be saving money and stress in the end. Catching learning issues early on is the best thing for both the student and the school. With a full day program, these issues could be caught and dealt with sooner before the student goes to first grade and is behind before the school year even starts. Once a student is in first grade the issue has to be established, researched and a course of action taken. This could take from 3-6 months depending on the issue and how quickly it shows itself. Now the child is behind even more and will have a very hard time catching up. If they end up needing special services, that costs the tax payer money. See where I am going with this? This common sense thinking is so overrated. 

The other issue with the all day kindergarten program is our facilities issues. oh yes, those pesky facilities issues have not gone away. In fact they are even more in the fronts of our minds than they were last year. Where to put another classroom full of adorable kindergartners? It was first discussed to add another portable/ modular out in back of the school. There are those that think that is the worst idea ever in the whole world. While it not might be the best, it is not as horrible as it be made out to be. Those portables/ modulars are pretty darn nifty. They have a ton of space. More windows than any of our current classrooms have. To get in you need a key. They have air conditioning as well as room controlled heat. No freezing or hot kids. You don't have the noise of the hallways and they do have restroom facilities available. Would it be better to have a grand new addition to the elementary school to house all of the students under one roof?? oh hell yes!! But seeing as how history has continued to replay itself here in our fair town, that is not going to happen until money grows on trees and pigs fly. We cannot wait to solve our facilities issues. We have been waiting for at least the 15 years I have lived here. Always we are on the cusp of finding the answers to make it all better. I am still waiting on this cusp and I am no longer holding my breath.

To appease the strongest no voters on this issue, the school board and the kindergarten task force worked together on lowering the amount needed to start this program. With the lowering of the cost, this warrant article will not impact the taxes at all! Yes you read that correctly. Voting yes for the all day kindergarten program will not raise your taxes by anything! 

That being said- please vote yes for the all day kindergarten program in March. It is long overdue. If by some miracle we can renovate the elementary school in the future, then we will have all students out of the portables/ modulars. Until then, let us do what is right for this large population of our town and educate our youngest children all day.   

**Lots more to come here on my blog concerning the upcoming election. Lots of information to re-read and my thoughts to get out of my head.**