Jonathan Crimmins

Jonathan Crimmins

When someone does a good job I think it is important to make note of it and applaud the effort. In keeping with this ideal, I want to take the opportunity to thank School Superintendent Paul Perzanoski on his efforts to bring entrepreneurship to the school department. In case you missed the story from last week, the Superintendent is going to start selling clothing that will, in a small way, go to support some summer educational programs including a reading and math camp.

This foray into the world of clothing sales will undoubtedly raise fewer eyebrows than the last attempt to raise money by the school department. Several years ago, the department’s website had a link on it which allowed the user to purchase various quantities of male enhancement supplements. The address for the online pharmacy has long since escaped me, suffice to say that the school department was not peddling the wares of Osco or Walgreens. Despite this, I am sure that the firm was legit.

At the time, when I contacted the superintendent about the information on his page, he was silent for a moment but said it would be removed later that day. True to his word, roughly four hours after alerting the department to the link it was gone. Vanished after what can only be seen as a stiff reminder as to why you should check your sites often.

All of this brings me back to my congratulations for Paul Perzanoski. He is going to overcome the, “budget difficulties” of the last eight years to restore some programs. Bravo!

The only question I have is, what “budget difficulties”? Is the superintendent saying that Brunswick has seen their school budget get decimated and cut? Maybe we really do need that math camp program after all.

If you have had the same passing interest in town governance over the past decade or so that I have had, then you may recall the yearly drama at budget time. You know the time, when the people of Brunswick routinely approve increases to the school budget and sometimes, the municipal budget.

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, nearly a decade’s worth of budget documents can be found right on the school department’s web page. That information paints a wildly different view of the idea that Brunswick schools have suffered through a financial crisis.

For the 2007-2008 year, again according to the department’s own figures, the approved budget was $32,734,737. No paltry sum. Some of the years showed increases in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. One year even topped out at more than a $1,500,000 increase, year to year.

Now, yes, there were three years where the school budget actually was smaller than the year preceding it. Those three reductions amounted to a grand total of $300,885. Even accounting for the reductions in the budget, by the time that the 2015-2016 budget was passed by the voters in June of last year, the school budget had ballooned to a total of $36,525,855. The eight years of “budget difficulties” saw the school budget grow by more than $3,791,118.

Remember, these are not just any figures. These are the figures that the school department has put on their website.

Of course the dollar amounts don’t tell the entire story of this saga. No, if the school department witnessed a vast increase of students there may be some justification for the increases. So what does the enrollment look like in Brunswick?

Again, using the numbers provided in the budgets from the school department, the number of students accounted for at the beginning of the 2007-2008 school year was 3,204. The number projected to start the 2015-2016 school year was just 2,288. Over the course of the time that the Superintendent is claiming that we are in a difficult position we have seen our school population drop by 916 students. This cannot be right.

How can it be that the enrollment has dropped by nearly 1,000 students or 30 percent of the pupils and yet the budget has increased by roughly 11 percent in that same timeframe? How can anyone in, good conscience, call this, “budget difficulties”?

I do applaud the Superintendent for his willingness to look outside the box with this new endeavor, but I really think we are being taken to the cleaners — and it is not for the new shirts.

That’s my two cents…


Jonathan Crimmins lives in Brunswick.

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