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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, May 12, 2011

Laura Ladd Bierman

By Saranac Hale Spencer

Laura Ladd Bierman is running for her second term on the school board because, she said, “I think I can make a difference.”

Given the economic climate, Bierman said, it would be irresponsible to add programs.  “We’re maintaining quality,” she said, explaining that she supports the proposed budget.

The district does need to look for ways to fund technology, she said, in order to prepare students for the future.

Of next year’s budget process, Bierman said that the state might increase aid and the teachers’ contract expires in June of 2012, so negotiations will start in the winter.

“We need to look seriously at how teachers are compensated,” she said, suggesting that raises could be tied to an economic indicator, like the Consumer Price Index.  That way, when the economy is flagging, teachers will make less and, when times are flush, teachers will make more.  She pointed out that the reason teachers were able to give back so much — they are forgoing their raises until April — is because the raises were so high to begin with.

If the governor’s proposed cap on the tax-levy increase passes, Bierman said, the district will stay within it.  Discussions on the state level regarding what will be included in the cap are ongoing, she said, adding that the district’s mandated contributions to employees’ pensions may be exempted.

Bierman was hesitant to speculate as to whether district residents were likely to approve a tax-levy increase beyond 2 percent, but she did say that the current era is different from years past in that people used to more readily accept what the district suggested.  Voters would need to know what the increase beyond 2 percent would be used for, she said.

Bierman voted to close the Clarksville School, which was a hard decision, she said, explaining that, if the district could operate in five buildings rather than six, “We should.”

The school will open again, she said, because the economy will pick up and there will be further development.

The school board represents the community, she said.  It is not the role of the board to run the school, she went on; it is the role of the board to hire a superintendent who runs the school.  Members of the board bring the views of the community to the school.

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