September 16, 2019

Dighton Rehoboth School Budget 2020 “The Elephants in the Room”

Posted

I want to personally thank all of you who could make our town meetings that our school committee members forced us to attend in which we overwhelmingly voted our opposition to their irresponsible budget presentation. Not once but three times, Over whelming is putting it politely, 82%!!!! It is disgusting that anyone thinks they have the right to negate our legally right to VOTE! Personally I do not believe they have this right. This is the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!!!!! Isn’t it?

In 1987 Dighton and Rehoboth added our K-8 to our existing regional agreement. Why did we do this? Because both towns wanted to help each other by saving each town money. Both towns worked together for the betterment of both towns. This effort was a fair and equitable agreement and it worked great until 2014. At this time it was learned that one town in a regional agreement could control the method of calculating the regional budget to their advantage. That one town is the town that has the lessor of the resident’s personal income and the lessor of their property taxes. This method is called the STATUTORY METHOD, Elephant #1. Of course Rehoboth has 12,000 plus population and Dighton 7,000 plus. Rehoboth understands we should be paying more because we have more students, but we should not be forced to also pay $2,000,000 more each year for Dighton’s costs on top of it. For whatever reason the Dighton school committee members said, ‘hey we can pay less by using this method’, so they voted to do so. As a result this has cost Rehoboth close to $2,000,000, more yes Million per year for six years now. To make matters worse three out of our five school committee members don’t have a problem with this.

Elephant # 2. We have done a very poor job electing our school committee members. Until George Solas was elected who also sits on our finance committee, nobody asked any questions. After much study of the school committee meetings it is very apparent that they almost always rubber stamp whatever the school administration hands down to them. Examples of committee members comments at school committee meetings; At least five have said, I really don’t understand budgets, When asked by Mr. Solas to take time to look at their $45,000,000 budget to see where the money goes the common reply is, we don’t have time for that! Fiduciary responsibility is one of the duties of a school committee member! So next April we need to find new school committee candidates who strive for the best education and budget knowledge so that we can get our schools back to a responsible situation.

Elephant # 3. Is it a coincidence that our school committee hired Dr Azar five years ago that we changed to the statutory method and that since then our school budget has ballooned out of sight. A school budget that exceeds $45,000,000 ten of which is to run ($10,000,000) his administration! Remember our school committee is in charge of running our schools, they hire, they fire! It is by far the largest budget we have and that is why WE have to clean up this mess. IT IS WE WHO ELECT!!!

Sometime soon we are going to have to vote on another 2.5 override. An override that the schools needed but didn’t have the nerve to present it to the voters because they knew it would not pass so they tried to back door the towns budget by demanding it be given to them out of our Stabilization Fund which was defeated at our town meeting. As most of you know this override will be the third vote they have forced us to take voting it down all three times! This after Dr Azar said just last year, pass the $2,115,000 plus and the schools will be good for some years. Does this tell you that we cannot trust what he tells us. By the way just last week July 18 at a school committee meeting again he put all the blame on our finance committee for all of their problems because they did not call him to have a meeting on the budget. Dr Azar is paid over $200,000 and he never made any attempt to contact them to have a meeting. What is he getting paid for? I guess his phone only works ONE WAY ! He is the CEO of a $45,000,000 plus budget and he refuses to accept any responsibility what so ever for this fiasco.

The reason our town voted to have the override vote is because we hope we can stop the school committee’s ignorance once and for all by voting NO!!! NO more overrides. They got their override last year!!!!! We need you to VOTE NO!

And by the way they can force us to go to a tent meeting possibly before the override vote. Again if this happens VOTE NO there also!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jay Crandall

The following information from Dr. Azar is in response to Mr. Crandall’s letter:

  1. Who was the superintendent that found the error and who determined that Dighton was paying approximately $1.5 million more than they should have been paying while Rehoboth should have been paying the amount instead?
    Mike Malone was the interim superintendent in 2013-2014. A sub committee of the school committee determined the error in the calculation through a consultant that was advising the Chapter 70 sub committee.
  2.  What is the actual cost to run the office of administration?
    DR's Central Office Administration cost center is not $10,000,000. It is $1,156,964 which includes the salaries of the superintendent, asst. superintendent, the business administrator, the facilities manager and the IT director. In addition to all clerical workers and supplies. He also failed to indicate that both my asst. superintendent and I share one secretary. In addition, the following line items were eliminated: Superintendent travel both in and out of state, professional expenses, course reimbursement, and secretary overtime.
  3.  What is your actual salary plus perks?
    I was hired in 2014-15 at a salary of 140k. The salary range was 135k to 155k. After serving the district for 3 years, I entered into negotiations with the school committee for a contract renewal. The salary was renegotiated to $167,000 contingent on a 3 year freeze. Hence, I am not eligible for a rate increase until after the third year of my new contract.

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