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A good start: Manchester school budget restraint

March 15. 2018 11:13PM

The Manchester School Board should learn the difference between wants and needs, but otherwise it has started the city’s budget process fairly well.

The board voted 12-1-1 to send a $168.2 million budget designed to stay under the city’s tax cap to the board of aldermen. The plan would take several small but important steps to save money. One of the toughest decisions was to eliminate 12 staff positions through attrition. With falling student enrollment, this makes sense.

The plan also sets aside $344,191 for the long-overdue school redistricting process.

The board also forwarded a so-called “needs budget” to aldermen, which includes an additional $2 million in proposed spending. To be accurate, this is money that school board members want aldermen to include, if they happen to have some extra money lying around, not money that schools need.

Mayor Joyce Craig supported the tax cap budget for the city schools. She is obligated to put together a budget proposal that respects the city’s tax cap. She’s been through this process before, but this is her first time writing a city budget as mayor. The school board vote is a good start.

The real test comes when Craig’s plan gets to aldermen. Will they work to stay under the tax cap? Will Craig, once the legal restrictions are off? Or will Manchester again bust through the tax cap for spending that city officials want, but don’t need?

Education Local and County Government Editorial Manchester

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