School Spending Unsustainable

Stupid PeopleAfter almost four years of railing against the wasteful spending going on here in the city of Keene, you might be under the assumption that this place is a lost cause and subsequently choose to settle elsewhere. Don’t. Keene is a great place with a lot of good people and a lot of potential. The truth is this sort of nonsense is going on across the country and in a lot of places it is much worse. The key difference here is the strong liberty community that has chosen to keep tabs on the powers that be and hold them accountable for their misguided decisions.  We’ve cleared our eyes of the veil of apathy to see the truth for what it is.

To the wise old city bureaucrats and school officials: this may be your legacy, but it’s my inheritance. I WILL NOT stand by and watch while you squander it. You may get your way this year, but I’m not going to make it easy for you.

Here is my recent LTE to the Sentinel:

As some of you may well be aware, the Keene School District plans to cut 36.7 full-time positions, close an elementary school, and has projected a loss in enrollment of around 80 students. And yet, as you probably already expected, the budget will still be going up.


The school district has presented us with a proposed operating budget of $64.98 million, an increase of $181,394 from the previous year. Should that article fail, the default budget of $65.66 million will kick in. So, lose/lose. But here’s the real kicker: Due to less incoming revenue in the form of state tuition and previous-year surplus, the actual impact on the Keene taxpayer will be an additional $1.7 million increase. This will amount to a 5.31 percent increase on the school portion of your property tax.


 These yearly increases in both school and city spending are unacceptable and ultimately unsustainable. If the school district were a private business it would have gone belly-up years ago due to its mismanagement of funds. But unlike the private sector, the public school system doesn’t need to sell you a good product to stay in business. They’ll get your money regardless of the quality and affordability of service they provide us. Or else they’ll take your house.

In an attempt to reign in this out-of-control spending, I have introduced three warrant articles that will help school board members and administrators with their future budget preparation. They include a budget cap of .5 percent, a reduction of $500 per student per year until the student tuition matches the state average, and the formation of a committee to study the feasibility of withdrawal from SAU 29. I’ve also included a fourth article to cease participation in the one-size-fits-all common core program. Sadly, all four warrants will undoubtedly be amended in such a way as to remove their original intent at the deliberative session this Saturday.


If there is one thing the school and its supporters excel at, it is removing any alternative options from the ballot.

At this point, some will bring up the go-to-response to any cuts made to public education or government in general: “I enjoy paying my taxes because I don’t want to live in a country with a bunch of stupid people.” And then there are those who would add, “we pay more in Keene because we want better than average.” Well, let me drop some numbers for you.


$65 million proposed budget.


3,305 projected student enrollment for 2016/17.


That’s $19,667 per student.


And what do we get from all that investment?


Smarter Balanced Assessment results 2014:


53 percent of Keene 11th-graders failed to meet expectations in English.


76 percent failed to meet expectations in math.


Both are considerably lower than the N.H. state averages.


I’m sorry. Investing a small fortune and getting failing results like these is stupid. Look at the bigger picture. You say it’s for the kids, but many of those very kids who you’ve invested so heavily in can’t afford to live or work here. How long until the first big company moves out of Keene because of the unfriendly tax rate and the loss of human capital? That day will come soon if we continue to spend the way we are.

The problem can be fixed, but we can not wait another 10 years down the road to finally begin addressing it.


The first deliberative session is this Saturday at the Keene high school auditorium.





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