The town school committees flexed their muscle in last week's election with a last-minute email campaigns touting the subject line “Our Schools and the Truth About Senior Tax Relief.” The email, authored by Sudbury School Committee member Lisa Gutch, said:
“To protect our schools, we must vote to re-elect Larry O'Brien.”
The emailed continued with:
“Based on what he has written and spoken, Mr. DePompei, if elected, will advocate for budgeting that would create a significant negative impact on our schools …”
On Mr. DePompei’s Senior Tax Relief proposal, the email concludes:
“He failed to mention that his proposal, if enacted, would be a direct hit to the School and Town budgets.”
The issue I have with this committee member's approach, besides accuracy of the claims, is that while fear mongering of parents may drive turnout, it also ultimately pushes other voting blocks against you. As a school committee official, she needs all the votes she can to get budgets passed. Remember last year's failed override?
Unfortunately, as we keep seeing, while the town Democratic Party can pack Lavenders and Town Meeting, they have trouble turning out voters for passing an override.
Until the school committee's start to embrace a more diverse representation of the town on their committees while also taking a longer term view about their actions during elections, forming a town wide coalition for school support will continue to be difficult.
Susan Iuliano’s posting last week about how difficult it is to get candidates to run was especially enlightening in this respect. I would argue her problem is not getting candidates to run, her problem is finding candidates with the same ideological orientation as the current board. Plenty of candidates have run for office, they just don’t agree with the current committee’s lack of progress on consolidation and giving administrators raises during tough economic times.
As long as SPS committee members use their position of influence to help elect ideologically pure candidates to various town offices, they will prevent the formation of a town wide coalition for school support. Their actions drive a wedge into the town electorate. Their ideology blinds them from seeing the damage they are doing to their own cause.