Interesting article this morning about outgoing New Hartford School Superintendent Daniel Gilligan.
If there ever was a need to fold governance of school districts into their local municipalities (like it already is in Syracuse, Buffalo and other large school districts), Mr. Gilligan's activities demonstrate it.
Mr. Gilligan only looks at things from the perspective of how much money can he get for his school district . . . while being blind to the broader ramifications of what he is promoting. Presumably the New Hartford School Board suffers from the same myopia since they seem to have bought into the rhetoric.
Expansion of the tax base to bring in more revenue is a double-edged sword: It also increases costs. Perhaps the school district will not see increased costs, but the town and region will. Mr. Gilligan promotes development on greenfields -- previously undeveloped land. Extension of water and sewer lines and roads costs money. Snowplowing and maintenance cost money. Then with the new commercial activity comes crime . . . requiring more police ... writing more tickets . . . to justify a new courthouse. More structures require more fire protection . . . etc. etc.
Of course, there is the environmental degradation that accompanies more development. People may be victimized by storm water runoff. Traffic, noise and congestion will increase. Landscapes will be destroyed.
I won't even try to discuss what all this "development" in New Hartford does to adjoining communities in our region of declining population. Let's just say that "neighborliness" -- concern for how the region is affected -- isn't even on Mr. Gilligan's radar screen -- and the deck-chairs are being rearranged on a sinking ship.
Many of the reasons why people chose to move to New Hartford are going to be destroyed . . . and the region will face higher costs and negative economic pressures . . . all so that Mr. Gilligan and his followers can have more money to play with.
Schools are only one part of the community . . . School leaders should focus on their part, the task of educating, and refrain from asking for things that affect the other parts.
If school leaders want to make decisions that have broader regional implications, then maybe the time has come for consolidation of school districts and municipal governments into one regional government . . . Then activist school superintendents like Mr. Gilligan will be unable to avoid responsibility for the consequences of their actions.