Opinion: School boards on wrong track

Sometimes questions just have to be asked. I have been quiet for too long.
Not too long ago school boards scrutinized budgets line by line. They even set curriculum in accordance with section 261a, VSA title 16. Such diligence, however, required a good deal of homework by the often-unappreciated board members.
A few years ago the boards, being similar to water and electricity, took the path of least resistance and disregarding the contract law principle “caveat emptor” bought hook, line and sinker, not the John Carver model, but the self-serving governance policy developed and sold by the Vermont Superintendents’ Association. Superintendents can now more easily incorporate a lesson learned from our grandmothers. If a board member asks an embarrassing question — change the subject and give him a cookie.
When several eyes are watching mistakes are discovered and rectified early.
When no one is watching mistakes are made and compounded.
The Burlington school board recently determined that its budget estimates for FY14, which comes to a close on June 30, had significantly underestimated costs and this problem had been going on for a while. If the voters hadn’t voted down this year’s budget the board and most importantly their constituents would have been none the wiser.
So my question for all Vermont school boards at this time is this: How’s that Vermont Superintendents’ Association version of policy government working for you now?
R.E. Merrill

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