And Now a Bad Thing: School Budgets have been on the Chopping Block for 30 Years

Since we’re in the mood for hearkening back to the past, there also is this item from 1981 in this week’s through the years column:

“After six months of dealing with budget matters, the School Committee returned to the business of academics. School Supt. Michael Fortunato declared, ‘This was a difficult year. I hope we never have another one like it. But you never know’.”

That was the first year of the implementation of Prop. two and half, the tax limiting law that was approved by voters in the 1980 election. It is fair to say that ever since that time, municipal budgets, and school budgets in particular, have fallen victim to the artificial constraints of Prop. two and half, which artificially limits to 2.5 percent annually the amount by which a city or town may raise its property tax levy, regardless of circumstances in a particular year.

There barely have been five years in the past 30 when school committees and school administrators have not had to make cuts, lay off personnel, or impose fees to balance their budgets. And looking ahead, the situation only will get worse.

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