Dear [Mas]cenic Voter…

Once again we got our one page Mascenic School District flyer indicating what the various items on the Mascenic School District ballot mean. Unfortunately we live in Mason, so other than demonstrate the incongruence of postal fees that make it cheaper to bulk mail to a zip code than target individual customers, it really wasn’t necessary for us to get one.

A lot of trees would be saved if Mason had its own zip code. Whatever happened to that project?

Since public funds are used for their mailing, the Mascenic School Board needed to grind its teeth and just stick to actual facts when explaining the $1.6 million decrease the voters handed them at their SB2 deliberative session. The board did an admirable job by dead panning “the amount on the ballot is $17,565,00, which is not recommended by the Mascenic School Board”.

For those of you on the web, Mason’s advance information primarily comes from the town and school district web pages. For those of you not on the web, well, good luck, but you’re not reading this anyway are you? We recently received an email from Carol Miller,, suggesting sattelite as a viable option for those of us that can’t get DSL or high speed at any price. However, we digress… but did look into it long enough to come to the conclusion that trees and the data caps might be an issue. Netflix and amazon video watching consumes a lot of bandwidth and might not be possible unless we wanted cut down a few trees and become a total night owl.

One minor gripe we have about both the town and school public relations is that the most important information for the year is not exactly easy to find. The propose town budget is still listed as “coming soon” on the primary information link, when point of fact it is available under “recent announcements“. Were sure that’s an oversight that will be repaired in short order.

We were rather interested in what the school district might have to say at its “special” February 23, 2015 public hearing/snow delayed school board meeting, especially about the Kindergarten warrant item. Unfortunately that notice is buried under the board’s agenda/minutes page, although we did find it.

Since our transportation relies on a commute, the 6:30 p.m. the school board’s selection of hearing time was not exactly convenient. We decided to skip the SB2 hearing so found ourselves arriving late to locked doors at 7:30 p.m. The board had just adjourned and the members were in the process of leaving. Given the number of items on the agenda, some of the discussion must have been really short. We’re sure we’ll find out after district meeting when the minutes are posted.

So now we vote on the school warrant without the benefit of hearing much public discussion. So be it. Some of it is our bad by not being relentless enough to track down each and every meeting. Some of it appears to us to be contempt for voters that do not have children in school (we get no electronic or even paper notices for items of interest).

Once again, like a bad recording, we point out that the school district’s annual report (online at the town), consists of electronic documents, printed and scanned back in as images for publication. The school takes great pride in having gone paperless; we only wonder what they print their documents on before scanning them. That part of the combined annual reports is actually hard to read. Maybe a “No” vote on article 2 “to accept the reports of…” would get the point across in a clearer fashion?

However, this year the town and school did get together to print a combined document. Congratulations, almost everything in one place. If one is interested in the line by line detail budget of the school one should go here. What’s printed in the annual report are the MS summary forms submitted to the state.

Might we suggest combining the town and school table of contents so the school pages are a little easier to find? It’s on page 61 of the combined report which we saved, but a little difficult to use with no links and the tiny page icons adobe provides. Also our version of adobe makes it a bit of a bother to rotate sideways printed pages to read them; then unrotate them to review the rest. Or maybe we should just invest in a monitor stand that rotates? However, not bad for a first attempt.

1 comment for “Dear [Mas]cenic Voter…

  1. Wentworth
    March 7, 2015 at 11:56

    We’ve received a second flyer from “Concerned Taxpayers” that urges us to vote “yes” for the Mascenic budget.

    One of the consequences of the two step SB2 process is that both sides get a second shot at adjustments to the final budget. In this particular case a “yes” vote supports the action of the deliberative session that reduced Mascenic’s 2015-2016 proposed budget; a “no” vote supports the default budget of $19,048,560 which would be a $1,184,789 increase over the 2014-2015 budget.

    In Mason, the situation is reversed with the proposed buget less than the default budget. Unless one considers the Kindergarten warrant item, which would then result in an increase of the total bottom line.

    While simple ballot voting increases voter participation, the small form of the ballot does suggest one take a crib sheet into polling place.

    One of the consequences of the zip code gerrymandering is that we get flyers for issues that are not relevant to our location and apparently none at all from those that are. Although we do expect a few last minute post cards which are sent at a higher postal rate.

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