The annual meeting to consider the $10 million budget for Mount Desert Island High School is set for Wednesday, April 6, at 7:30 p.m. at the high school on the Eagle Lake Road.
Throughout the year, numerous voices often are raised in complaint about some aspect of education funding on MDI. This is the final chance for people who have issues with the proposed expenditures for the coming school year to have their voices heard, and if enough other people agree, to make substantive changes.
Although the amount seems paltry now, in years past, attempts have been made to cut lump sums of $100,000 from the budget. While suggesting arbitrary cuts seldom is helpful or successful, more thoughtful proposals and specific changes often are seriously considered. Think the budget is too high? Then come prepared to make specific recommendations for reductions.
Under the structure for approving MDI High School expenses, this is the final meeting at which changes can be made. The total budget voted at the April 6 meeting then is allocated, according to the established formula, with each member town advised as to its share of the total for its town meeting warrant. At town meeting, the amount can be voted up or down, not increased or reduced.
After the fact, critics often carp and complain that only school department employees or school board members bothered to attend the annual budget meeting. Poor attendance at the budget meeting might be seen as de facto confidence in the budget preparation. To others, it signals a worrisome depth of apathy.
The only way to combat either stereotype is through participation. If those who think the budget is too high fail to turn out and speak up, they have only themselves to blame for the results. Should those who believe the budget is fair and meets vital educational objectives fail show up and support it, they shouldn’t complain about cuts made at the meeting.
Without a robust turnout, just a handful of people will decide the level of educational resources for MDI High, while at the same time establishing taxation levels for all member towns.