Published DateBy Lloyd Jones
CONWAY — A petitioned warrant article — submitted by officials from Tin Mountain Conservation Center — may have been the straw that broke the camel's back for one school board member at a recent meeting.
Dick Klement, of the board, voiced his frustration not just over the article, but the entire budget process. With the budget continually on the rise and taxpayers voicing an inability to meet those increases, Klement said no one seems to want to draw the line. Every time the board discusses a possible cut, a special interest group comes forward urging board to look elsewhere for savings.
"I continue to be amazed at the huge volume of correspondence urging us to reduce our deficits while there is a simultaneous outpouring from the very same people to reinstate anything recommended to be reduced because it impacts their preferred issue," he said in the cafeteria at Kennett High. "Today we have a petitioned warrant article before us asking to reinstate Tim Mountain funding. OK, so where should we then eliminate $12,000? Art, music, ceramics, guitar, middle school athletic directors or you name it? Each has been on the block one or more times and every time we get the same result. 'But think of the children.' Then there is the budget committee saying costs are out of control.
"This year we might be looking at a $250 increase in property taxes on a $200,000 home," Klement continued. "It takes the combined property taxation from five to six homes to educate each child. When we propose a pay for play extra curricular fee, these same people again pipe up and say it's unfair to those who can't afford to pay. Yet these same people don't even profess to care about those five other families who are forced to fork over the 20 percent cost so our darlings parents don't have to pay their fair share."
Klement said this is not just a Conway problem, but one that is happening globally.
"I hear repeated concerns that we need to find another way to pay for our educational system," he said. "I would suppose that means an income tax and/or a sales tax. Hello, is anyone home? Who is going to pay those taxes if not us? Conway and the entire United States needs to wake up. Excess spending will never be curbed by raising taxes because we will continue to raise them rather than bring spending under control. Free cell phones, free EBT cards, welfare, food stamps, free gas cards and the list goes on. Hello, it's not free. The rest of us are paying for those receiving, yet there appears to be no reasonable accountability for all of these payouts, rather the demand that they are owed to the recipients.
"Excess and deficit spending can only be cured by a reduction in spending and general belt tightening by everyone," Klement continued. "Funny how many moved to New Hampshire because taxes were low. As soon as they cleared the Massachusetts border they began to demand the same services they had in the Commonwealth. That same Commonwealth they fled because of the high and still rising tax rates. They now complain about the rise in taxes while simultaneously moaning about the lack of services."
Klement said the community has to rally together if it truly wants to get a grip on rising costs.
"Let's see what is on the table," he said. "Suggest cutting librarians at elementary schools and lo and behold a missive arrives from those same librarians stating the world will end without a credentialed librarian at each elementary school. Suggest parking fees and the room fills with parents demanding their rights to have their children park at the school, and why aren't there more parking spaces. Meanwhile we are still providing a space on the bus for each of the darlings in case their import car won't start. God forbid we try to take away parking privileges from a kid who abuses the rules. Certain school board members say our current parking rules are too draconian. Kids need more chances. Youth is a time to grow and learn. Then there is the dress code. Some want their children to wear whatever they want. Some say so what if a child wants to wear a black trench coat all day. Others say yoga pants are appropriate at school. Then there are the parents who pick their darlings up after school. They park, engines running in their import SUVs right in front of the school doors. Heaven forbid Fluffy has to enter a cold car.
"Latest is the security issue," Klement continued. "It is only by the grace of God that we haven't had a serious security situation. When we add security measures we will certainly hear the moans and complaints of those who say we are turning our schools into prisons, and statements insisting that they need free and unimpeded access to the school. God forbid we have an attack on our children but if we do not provide additional security are we just hiding our heads in the sand believing that it won't happen here? I agree the above is a rambling rant against the current school situation however, it's not the school's fault or the school board's. We all are the ones who created this situation and we refuse to sacrifice in any way to fix it. Shame on all of us, It's our fault."