Budget Reform for Student Learning at www.lmsd.info was organized in May 2006 in response to the then proposed tax increase of 15.1%. After the Board adjusted the amount to 14.3%, BRSL organized a group of over 200 citizens to pressure the School Board into answering the tough questions about its proposed budget, and in particular, its debt service schemes. The result was an offer to drop the increase to 10.8% to get BRSL to "back off." Of course, we did not.
What happened is explained in this article that was run in the Main Line Times, Main Line Life, and The Bulletin. A careful reading will show that the Board majority insisted that "every remaining penny" of the 10.8% budget increase was needed to maintain educational programs. But was it? Less than a year later, we learned that the very budget that we succeeded in having reduced by over 3.5% had over a $6.5M surplus embedded in it. Worse than that was the realization that this over-taxing was part of the "debt service scheme" that had been hidden from the public.
Our small victory for the citizens put millions of dollars back in the taxpayers pockets, saving each Lower Merion resident over 3.5% on their school taxes each year. Our latest victory has come from the PA Secretary of Education,who will conduct formal hearings in February 2009 to decide on the merits of BRSL's complaint that the PlanCon approvals of the two high schools without a voter referendum was a violation of PA ACT 34. Finally,the residents of Lower Merion may have a chance to have their voices heard. This would not only help offset the massive tax increases looming in our near future, but would also force a renewed look at the current plan to bus children from Ardmore and Narberth past Lower Merion High School to Harriton.
But fights like this come at a cost. BRSL needs your help now. If you support what we are doing, please visit www.lmsd.info, sign our petition to rescind the PlanCon approvals, and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We need help funding our efforts and getting the word out.
Bill Manginelli, Narberth