"Transparency in government" and "better communication" are phrases we often hear bandied about by politicians who are running for office or those who are trying to distance themselves from a past administration. Although both phrases are admirable and if carried out would make the slogan "one town one budget" carry a great deal of weight.

However, if the start of the budget season is any litmus test of the validity of the words then I fear that those ideals will remain just that. The budget process on the Board of Education side was anything but transparent and the fault lies clearly with the board leadership and the Superintendent of Schools.

This year found the public behind the wall of sound bites and game show antics that never really developed into the collaboration of ideas between the board members and for that matter the public. It is understandable the need to respect the superintendent, but to allow that party total control at the expense of the parents and the board of education members is unreasonable and inexcusable.

For the last eight years I have attended school board budget meetings and have witnessed the exchanging of ideas, the changing of line items as they are discussed, as well as public opinion as the process went along. This year, however, saw the questions by the BOE members submitted via email to the superintendent, and it wasn't until before the budget vote that those questions and answers were posted on the school board website.

These two budget sessions, which were not telecast and had no public comment, clearly show that the meetings were not transparent and communication with the public was extremely limited.

The education budget is the largest component of our town budget and the education of our children is what has brought so many to the town. So the back-door politics and the exclusionary principles need to stop. Our children and our town deserve better than this.

Suzanne Miska