School board has responsibility of ‘selling’ its budget

In June I was at a Howell Board of Education meeting and I heard the board president say how happy and surprised she was at the big turnout, it being the biggest turnout she had ever seen.

I must agree with her that, in fact, it looked like one of the (most well-attended) school board meetings I had ever seen.

Unfortunately, most of the people in the audience were not Howell taxpayers, but people that worked in the school system who were worried about their jobs. That in itself is not a problem, but it should be pointed out.

This letter is being written because of the speech that (board member) Robert Antonaccio gave regarding the failure of the citizens of Howell to pass the budget. It was appalling for me to sit there and listen to him accuse the citizens of Howell for not caring and not wanting the best for our children.

In my opinion the failure to pass the budget lies squarely on the shoulders of the board. Yearly I sit through presentations given by a member of the board to active PTA members on what the budget is all about and why we need to pass it. I believe the board then expects those active PTA members to go out and sell this to their general membership. I do not agree with this philosophy. The board works on putting together a budget and, in my opinion, they should find a way to get the voting citizens of Howell the information regarding what they are voting for.

One of my problems with the process is when the board comes to the PTA meetings and says that “we have already negotiated union contracts so that part of the budget has to be approved,” and in the next sentence they say that “this 3 to 5 percent is really what you are voting on and it is the discretionary part of the budget.” To me the word discretionary means those little extras that make the Howell schools a little better than anywhere else.

It is not the responsibility of the PTA to go out and sell the school budget, which they had no hand in putting together, to the general citizenship. The responsibility lies with the school board and the Board of Education to “educate” the general public on what is needed to run the schools and why the budget needs to be passed.

Mike Torres

PTA president

Southard School