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I was very troubled by an observation First Selectman Tom Banisch made in his most recent column (“The Nature and the Need,” April 25). After commenting on the town budget (an increase) versus the Board of Education budget (a decrease), he noted, “I realize that while maintaining our schools benefits the community in many ways, maintaining our town benefits everyone.”
To the contrary, I believe public education hugely benefits every Madison citizen every day. It is the basis of our growth and prosperity. It creates the kinds of informed citizens we want as friends, neighbors, and associates at work. Educated voters and the schools they learn in are the foundation of our democracy.
Support for education by all of us, not just those with children in our schools, is not only a moral imperative, but an economic one. Madison’s tax base is overwhelmingly residential. Whether you like the term or not, we are a bedroom community. When families with children start to think that Madison’s tradition of broad-based support for our superb schools is diminishing in favor of other priorities, our town will diminish with it. We simply can’t afford to become a retirement community with excellent beaches.
I totally disagree with the implication that tree care and building repair offer wider benefits to Madison than maintaining our schools. However, I do believe that the both the town and Board of Education budgets are quite reasonable and that the proposed expenditures are necessary—but I support both budgets equally, because they offer equal benefits to every resident of our community.
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