One night a few years back, after too many drinks around our dining room table, a friend told us how he was recently recruited by his town’s superintendent to serve on the Board of Education. Newly enmeshed in the intricacies of the school budget, he was amazed that every penny in the multi-million dollar budget was already allocated towards items like teachers’ salaries and building maintenance with very little wiggly room for new innovative programs. In his working class community, taxes couldn’t be raised easily, so an unexpected emergency like a leaky roof could blow the budget.
He speculated about a potential emergency cost. “A family moves to town with an autistic kid, who needs to be sent to a special private school, and it’s $100,000 per year,” my friend exclaimed. “Over a million dollars, maybe two, in total for K-12. You know how many teachers I could hire for that!”