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Rick Hood: Says Town Meeting members lack details


Thursday, January 18, 2018
Says Town Meeting members lack details

The example the writer cites in her letter of Dec. 8 (“Town Meeting reflects community values”) highlights the problem with Town Meeting.

It has the authority to micromanage budgets, but most members do not have a deep enough understanding of the budgets to thoughtfully weigh the pros and cons of an issue. And, as mentioned by many, they are not really accountable to anyone.

From my six years experience on the School Committee, I can tell you that even being deeply familiar with the issues it can still be difficult to know what is the right decision. If it’s difficult for School Committee members, it’s impossible for Town Meeting members.

Not stated in the letter was that the School Committee already had restored cuts to the library aides budget line item — approximately two-thirds — just not all of it. The $30,000 voted by Town Meeting was the remainder.

The School Committee had come to a carefully considered compromise to restore most of the full cuts, which had been recommended by the principals and superintendent. The key words are “carefully considered.”

That does not mean it was absolutely the right decision, but on average, a board that knows the details well enough to be able to carefully consider the issues is going to be right more often than a Town Meeting that does not.

Rick Hood

Amherst

The writer is a Town Meeting member from Precinct 4 and a former School Committee member.