For some time now, I’ve been at a loss to understand Fairfield officials’ opposition to properly funding School Administrative District 49.

Education is the most important thing a community does for its future. It’s the foundation of sustained economic growth. It attracts new families to the community. Plus, it’s just the right thing to do. And, when the state says it will not help to pay for education as it used to, it’s up to the local community to pick up the slack or fall behind. So, what, I wondered, don’t they get about all of this?

Today, I finally figured it out. The answer is right there in the goals of the town when it comes to education.

While the school district (administration, faculty, students, staff and School Board) remains focused on education, the town is focused solely on keeping taxes low. The “2015 Town Council Goals and Standards” states that it will “discuss tax relief strategies” with the SAD 49 School Board during the budget process.

Tax relief. That’s what the town cares about when it comes to education. I agree that keeping costs in check is important, but so is providing a good education for our children. And apparently only costs matter to the town.

In addition to misunderstanding how major purchases are spread out over multiple budget years, some town councilors have called for the elimination of, among other things, books for students to read and supplies for doing the work of running the district. No books. For a school. Not terribly helpful advice.

But, if the goal is treat education as a way to keep taxes low, it makes perfect sense. If we want to secure the long-term health of our community, however, this is colossally short-sighted.

Derek Michaud


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