ALLENSTOWN — Larry Anderson said he was as surprised as anyone in the room when the amendment passed.
The longtime Allenstown Budget Committee member had just proposed a $1 million cut from the school district’s proposed $9,756,468 operating budget and it carried, not once, but twice.
The amended $8,780,000 budget first passed by one vote through a show of hands and then again by a 35-33 secret ballot tally at an Allenstown School District Meeting on Feb. 1
“It surprised the (heck) out of me,” said Anderson. “One thing I do know is that this got a heck of a lot of people talking, and it’s about time.”
Talk they have. In fact, it’s been all the talk in Allenstown for more than five weeks.
The amended budget represents a decrease of $4.05 per $1,000 property valuation, or $1,012.50 on a $250,000 home.
The true cost, however, isn’t quantifiable according to Jody Moore.
“People are thinking about their wallet and nothing else, but this is going to affect our children’s future, so it’s crucial that this does not pass,” said Moore, who is running a write-in campaign for a seat on the Allenstown School Board. “It’s important for people to realize that when we were children and we were advancing in our education, people had to foot the bill for us.”
If the amended budget is approved, school board members have indicated Allenstown must cut 14 teachers; music, art and physical education programs; foreign language curriculum; a library media specialist and library assistant; a technology integration teacher and support staff member; reading and math specialists; school field trips; school assemblies and much more.
Anderson, however, says the district can survive minus the $1 million.
“My reasons are the same. I haven’t changed my mind,” said Anderson. “These parents are putting out these flyers, but they’re nothing but a bunch of lies. They can’t prove it. I think its just the school board trying to intimidate people. They’re going around with that scare tactic to give parents the idea they’re going to lose all this stuff, but they need to tell the truth.”
Anderson said he has done his research and has formed a proposal that would cut seven teachers and six special education instructors, along with some other trimmings, but that would allow the district to maintain all it’s core and state-mandated programs. His plan, he said, would bring the average class size up to around 20 students per teacher.
“They have too many teachers at (Allenstown Elementary School),” he said. “To me, that’s what this is all about. They’re just keeping a teacher working.
“The (school board) needs to do what I did and take a good hard look at this stuff,” he added. “I sat down at the table with my wife and a friend and in 15 minutes I came up with $800,000. When I was done, I found $1.29 million they could cut without giving up any of the state requirements.”
Moore said the school board and the district have done their due diligence and then some.
“There’s not any other options for us to cut. I mean, $1 million is such a large amount of money when you’re talking about a budget that’s less than $10 million,” she said. “The school board has done a lot of research and those are the areas that will most likely be cut. That’s why it’s so important for people to get out and vote ‘no’ to the proposed budget.”