(Its for the Children)
This past Thursday, 032014, the Augusta County School Board (ACSB) held a Budget Meeting during which they voted to submit a balanced Operation Budget to the BoS. The amount submitted was $97,523,417 for 10,305 students, or $9027 per student. The ACSB members said this was a “bare-bones” budget. They stated they want at least an additional $2.5 million to take care of things such at cracked concrete sidewalks, etc. Moreover, they want another $3 million so they can put MacBook Airs in all the schools so, in their words, ‘the children will have the proper introduction to the world of computers when they go out into the real world where computer technology is being used as part of the job.’ They said they had spent an entire month putting together the budget. It was obvious from their discussion they are hoping taxes will be raised so, in their words, "the children can have what they deserve."
There are aspects of what was stated by the ACSB members that should cause us pause. For example, Apple computers are not the platform used in the business and technical job market. The platform is Windows-based. Why then were MacBook Airs chosen? Moreover, MacBook Airs cost, at a minimum, from $1000 - $1100 each. A Windows laptop of similar capacity and functionality costs $300 - $400 each. Even if there is a discount for MacBook Airs, a similar discount for a Windows laptop would mean a lot less cost and a computer that is far more related to the real world of the jobs. So there is no good justification for using MacBook Airs.
During the Budget Meeting one of the ACSB members stated that teachers are the most important aspect of education of children. I entirely agree. But what that individual added was perhaps more relevant than they understood. They stated, ‘a good teacher could educate students even if they and the students were in the school parking lot.’ Whether or not the ACSB member(s) realized it or not, they were saying that the key to a good education is not the building and its ancillary fancy and exciting technology. So why then is so much money spent on construction and technology? Perhaps it has more to do with the excitement and feel-good it generates in the ACSB members because they think the name ‘Mac’ is impressive and glamorous. Perhaps it has more to do with what the ACSB members ‘want’ than it does with the ‘needs’ in order to meet the challenges of education.
The ACSB members stated they spent ‘an entire month’ on this almost $100 Million Budget. One of the individuals in the audience stated to the ACSB at the end of the meeting that their dollar arguments had no business basis of justification but rather was based on ‘Mom and Apple Pie.’ No doubt the attendee was referring to members of the ACSB making the argument that the budget should be more because ‘the children deserved it.’
There were only two SVTPP members at the Meeting. Whether or not there were tax payers present other than parents of children and teachers was not obvious. As long as that is the case we can expect that the ACSB, and the Augusta County BoS will assume they can spend as much they want in what ever way they chose because the taxpayers of Augusta County have no interest and they sanction being taxed to what ever extent the ACSB and the BoS chose. So, get our your pocket book and pay up.