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May 25, 2020
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Trust but Verify

Published April 17, 2019

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When I worked for a consumer products company many years ago, I asked my boss (the company president), what he felt was the most important trait in an employee. He responded “Trust.” That has resonated with me ever since. When my husband and I ran our own business for 15 years, we trusted and empowered our employees, the boots on the ground, to make sound decisions to grow our business. And they did. Trust but verify was key to our success.

I trust our superintendent of schools and Board of Education to make decisions based on education needs. I trust them to make fiscally responsible decisions. I have spent much time reviewing the proposed education budget. My trust is verified. They have diligently responded to declining enrollment, cutting staff and expenses, resulting in one of the lowest cost-per-pupil expenditures in the area.

In the past two years, 11 certified teachers, 9 paraprofessionals, a secretary, and custodian staff were cut, a total of 16 full time equivalent (FTE) positions. Late last year they made the difficult decision to close Pierson and swiftly executed a plan to realize savings in 2019-’20. The 2019-’20 proposed budget reflects additional cuts of four certified positions, two secretaries, two custodians, and four paraprofessionals. The decision also required hours of very thoughtful planning and implementation to reconfigure Joel and Eliot. I’m especially excited about the new Eliot Middle School model and programs.

The verification is in the bottom line, the cost-per-pupil expenditure. Clinton’s cost-per-pupil expenditure is the lowest on the shoreline, except Guilford (by $500). It’s the third-lowest among 12 towns. We can’t afford to cut more without impacting necessary programs.

Education is vital to the success of every child. I encourage Clinton residents to get the facts at and vote “Yes” May 8.

Laura Colebank

Laura Colebank is vice-president of the Clinton PTA.