On Tuesday, June 14, our school district’s trustees voted 3-2 to approve an $89 million 2016-2017 budget. District administrators, led by Superintendent Holmes, had proposed spending cuts to achieve a balance between revenues and expenditures.

Hundreds of people – parents, employees, the public – had a strong opinion on the student-focused cuts and expressed it to the board. Some expenditures that were NOT greatly reduced also generated controversy. Consequently, the superintendent slightly revised the budget, but students still took the brunt of the cuts, while favored administrative programs remained.

BCSD, like many government bureaucracies, has a few employees who are quite skilled at manipulating well-meaning but naïve board members.

Early in the discussion at Tuesday’s meeting, Trustee Freund (attending by phone) suddenly made a motion to approve the superintendent’s budget, cutting off consideration of budget alternatives offered by Trustees Corker and Bustos.  Trustees Clayton and Bennion joined Freund in voting ‘yes.’ Trustees Corker and Bustos voted ‘no.’ The budget was approved.

The morning after casting the deciding vote on the budget, Trustee Freund submitted her resignation, citing ongoing health issues. The timing of this has raised many eyebrows. Should Freund, on the eve of her planned departure, have voted for or against any substantive issue? Without Freund’s deciding vote, a two-two tie could have prompted the four remaining trustees to hammer out a budget compromise closer to what the public wanted, that could earn three or even four trustee votes of approval.

June 28 is the deadline for BCSD budget voting.

In the end, Freund’s departure presents an opportunity to fill her Zone 3 seat with a candidate who will represent our community’s views, do their homework, ask the tough questions, and make decisions that are in the best interests of students, not adults.

Selection of Freund’s replacement will bring BCSD to another crossroads; straight ahead on the same path lies this administration’s status quo; a new trustee who strongly believes in a citizen-governed school district signifies a turn for the better.

This lady’s for turning.

Barbara Browning,

Blaine County resident