Contact Brooks Lyman

Miscellaneous Commentary:

 Letter to the Editor, Groton Herald  -  sent 7 April 2010

Dear Editor,  

My understanding is that despite the poor economy in 2009, the GDRSD School Committee approved a 3-year teacher’s contract that gave them a 7% per year raise. This is illuminating in view of the recent squabbling between the Selectmen and the Town manager over whether non-union Town employees should get a 2% COLA increase. One hesitates to ask what contractual increases the various unionized  Town employees are getting, but I suspect that it wasn’t any 7% per year. Sometimes I wish that we had the taxing system that New York has, where the schools send out their own tax bills. There’s nothing like seeing it laid out in black and white on paper, just how much you’re paying for the schools.  

A recent letter to the Herald pointed out that GDRSD was cutting a number of teachers and apparently no non-teaching staff. At Town Meeting a couple of years back, I made the point (rhetorically) that the public schools, including GDRSD, were "top heavy" with non-teaching personnel. The Superintendent got up on his hind feet and said that I was wrong, that only 43% of the GDRSD personnel were non-teaching. Pardon Me! I stand corrected! But the point here is, that 57% of the GDRSD personnel just got locked into a 7% per year raise for the next three years, in very bad financial times. 

 Now, as an old critic of the way the public schools operate, I really have to question the 43% non-teaching personnel and also the presence of a fair number of Teacher’s Aides, Guidance Counselors and other “support” personnel, whether teaching or not. When I was in school, we had larger classes than we do today, and I don’t recall any Teacher’s Aides – the teachers were able to give 30 or so students a good education all by themselves. – and the guidance counselor’s job was to help high school seniors get into the right college, not to act as surrogate parents and psychologists.  

I’m running for Selectman. I realize that the Selectmen don’t have other than moral suasion with GDRSD but the Selectmen do have some influence over the Town’s spending practices, and I will certainly take every advantage of that to try to keep our taxes as low as possible. Now is not the time to be giving raises and hiring new personnel and expensive consultants. Rather, we should be looking at ways to enlarge, energize and assist our volunteer committees to perform much of the work of our Town Government.  

Sincerely yours,

Brooks Lyman, Candidate for Selectman