Thursday, March 05, 2009

Layoffs, Across the Board Wage Cuts, and Elections

We had our local school budget vote in Hanover on March 3 -- one of the great things about NH that is taken for granted is that we still have significant local control over school issues that matter (like the budget).

On the ballot was a special item: a single ballot measure that asked for an appropriation of around $80,000 to keep one elementary school teacher position. This was over and above the vote on the overall budget. If this single item did not pass, a teacher would lose his/her job and class sizes, especially for the third grade, would increase slightly.

I voted for it, and I usually vote for resources for our schools. I don't have any children in the elementary or middle schools any longer, and just one senior in high school. I do have an interest as a Tuck professor in making sure that our schools are excellent, for faculty recruiting purposes. So that is my disclosure.

One would think, in these times, and with all the outcry for people to take salary cuts to allow others to keep their jobs, that something like this would win by a landslide. At a cost of $17 on average per household (increased property taxes) one could let a teacher keep their job, and at the same time improve the quality of education at the elementary school. Think about it -- this is not a "redundant" position we are eliminating, like many layoffs where the work just no longer needs to be done or even can be done. This is a teacher's position, which if eliminated means more students for the other teachers to deal with.

It barely passed. By 20 votes on a total vote cast of around 1,000.

Now maybe it is my viewpoint, but I see this as interesting commentary on those calls for working people to take salary cuts to maintain the jobs of others. And I don't take it as positive, even though the item passed. What is striking is that so few people were willing to cough up a few more dollars to keep a teacher!

In another post to come, I will lay out why I think the push for wage cuts to preserve jobs is generally ill-advised.

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