Budget defeat will hurt Clarence’s great schools

An erroneous decision was made by a 48-to-34 margin in Clarence and the reasons are troubling. As a 20-plus-year resident, I see the School Board as a highly reputed group of hardworking, accomplished and educated citizens doing the right thing. The majority of voters, however, didn’t believe them. It appeared that negative campaign tactics, the kind we all seem to deplore during national elections, were very effective in Clarence.

At first I thought the 9.8 percent increase was “just too much,” as the negative campaign slogan mentioned, but checking the website and the superintendent’s PowerPoint, the cuts needed to get to the 9.8 percent were already significant. For example, notice that no Clarence bands will be marching in this year’s Memorial Day Parade due to last year’s cuts, and the high school had already sent home letters announcing 28 canceled courses and another page worth of limited-enrollment courses.

The next round of cuts that now have to happen to get from the rejected 9.8 percent to a cap-limit 3.9 percent tax increase will seem harsh to a lot of innocent children and hardworking taxpayers. To get to a 0 percent tax increase, the school’s reputation as an award-winning “great school,” the kind that shows up on property search engine websites that attract out-of-towners to a particular area, will take a hard hit.

The error that the voters made is in making an ill-advised self-inflicted monetary wound that will take years or decades to heal. Property values will decrease, the school will get a bad reputation and the new board members will be degraded. My 9.8 percent tax increase would have amounted to less than a dollar a day for a year, less than my coffee money. But the damage is done.

Timothy R. Woodbury