Letter: Education budgets need to be controlled

To the Editors:

In last week’s Bulletin I was shocked to see that the Board of Education presented a budget requesting an increase of 4.82%, completely ignoring the Board of Finance’s target of 1.75%. Instead of looking at ways of minimizing the increase, the board did not even include the minimum participation fee revenue agreed to last year. After review, a participation fee amount of $175,000 was added in, modifying the increase request to 4.52%.

Given the costs incurred by the sports programs, I believe there is much more that can be done with participation fees to help control our ever-increasing budget. The sports program budget proposed is $1,144,571, a 14.1% increase over the previous budget. As projected in the proposed budget, the various programs have an average cost per pupil participating of $705, with some sports having a cost per pupil of over $2,400. Should it be unreasonable to expect that participants pay participation fees that cover at least 50% of the costs of their program? Even our neighboring towns have implemented significant participation fees as a way to help control budget increases.

Sports programs should not be equated with education. I challenge the Board of Education to identify other countries that include sports as part of their public education system. Sports are still played, but at a club level. I do not expect major changes here, but as a minimum, those that participate should pay a reasonable amount to participate and not expect all taxpayers to fund them.

Alex Ruskewich

Calvin Road, Feb. 3