School Budgets–Doing More with Less

Like all entities dependent upon tax dollars for survival, schools are being called upon to do more with less. It has become abundantly clear to me, that educators have not embraced this crisis as a reason to explore systemic changes and redesign of the delivery system. Therefore, it is necessary to look at the budget cuts within the context of our current educational model.

Without a doubt, the ‘easy’ cuts have been made. Districts have harvested all the low hanging fruit. The next round of cuts will be deeper, will test the resolve of leaders, and will tell a lot about the values of communities.

Most school leaders agree, it won’t be possible to make the required reductions without looking at the two biggest expenditures in their budgets–salaries and facilities. As you might imagine, a reduction in salaries most likely means a reduction in force, and to make substantial reductions in the facility expenditures may require closing buildings. For some districts this will mean additional consolidation within a district; for others it may involve collapsing two (or more) neighboring districts into one.

I’ve lived through the closing of buildings. (3 elementary schools in the last 20 years) It is ugly. But it isn’t the end of the world, and it just might be the right thing to do.

Recently a parent from a nearby district has been corresponding with me. She resides in a school district that is not unlike the district in which I live as the district is made up of 5 small communities, with the three smallest communities each housing a grade school. She is concerned that the current superintendent and school board plans to close one or more of the outlying elementary schools. As you might guess, she lives in one of the outlying communities and like her neighbors, she fears the loss of their grade school.

To her credit, this patron is getting involved, and she is educating herself. It was evident in our first conversation, that she had an agenda. Keep the elementary in her town open, at all costs. There is no doubt, she remains biased toward any solution that keeps the building in her town open, but she is trying to develop a broader understanding.

In a recent exchange, we discussed the multiple factors that need to be weighed when considering solutions on the table. As I told her, whatever solution she rallies behind will need more teeth than just an argument to save the building. Likewise, the argument of “It’s not fair.” won’t hold much water either. Believe, me I’ve heard both.

Rather than argue issues of fairness or spreading fear about how the loss of the school is the final nail in the coffin for the existence of a small town, districts, patrons, boards of educators, teachers and unions should have a single interest at heart. Namely–How can we best use the available resources to provide the greatest educational opportunity for the kids we serve? It isn’t about the adults. Sadly, it isn’t even about preserving small towns. It’s about the kids.

About Deb

I am a lifelong educator with experience in special education, counseling and staff development. Special interests outside of my chosen career field include entrepreneurship, investing and financial literacy.
This entry was posted in Educational Finance, School and Community and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to School Budgets–Doing More with Less

  1. Core 4 All says:

    How can we best use the available resources to provide the greatest educational opportunity for the kids we serve?
    We must realize that our current content-driven curriculum is out-dated. To provide our students with the greatest educational opportunity, we must explicitly teach skills, and assess these skills. Let’s make content relevant and engaging by using current resources. It is time to use the Common Core Standards as the driving force in curriculum. It is time to develop common formative assessments measuring skill development. We can continue with the status quo, and use out-dated materials and heavy on content, or we can restructure our curriculum and make it meaningful for our students. To me, there is no choice.

  2. Also, whenever there is change, some people end up relatively worse off than others. If you’re one of the people who are asked to sacrifice, it’s even harder when there are clear winners; wy should you sacrifice when others are reaping rewards?

    How to evoke a sense of shared sacrifice, and doing away with even the appearance of favoritism to certain groups, is something our political leaders are going to have to learn.

  3. KWH says:

    Not about the towns??? where do you think our kids come from?? kill the towns- no kids- of course we all know class sizes of 30 or more will not effect learning or individual attention, that you can attract teachers with out the chance of at least matching inflation — puplic education is being killed off- what young American would want to step into this- its not capitalism-or have we to teach young teachers its for the good of the state?

  4. Pingback: Educating the Public for FREE | Because Our Future Depends On It

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