When you join the school board, you have high hopes of making a positive, meaningful difference in the lives of students. During last night's Strategic Action meeting, it felt like we were doing anything but that. Unfortunately money is the issue of the day, and we had to start making cuts to programs and initiatives. So what was cut from next year's budget, you ask? . . .
* No more mid day Kindergarten bus runs (savings = $85k)
* Assess "energy use reimbursement" fees for organizations utilizing our facilities (savings = $112k)
* No implementation of full day Kindergarten (no cost savings since it was not yet budgeted, but this move avoids increased expenditures)
Other considerations . . .
* Increase in-class time for Lead Teachers
* Assess student participation fees for extra curricular activities
* Reduce daily bus runs by increasing walking distance requirements
* Eliminate the 5:15pm late bus run
Perhaps most frustrating of all was that it took us 2-1/2 hours last night to agree upon savings that amounted to just under $200k, and we were only able to get through 17 of the 70+ cost savings ideas we are reviewing. This is going to be a long, painful process, and we're not even close to the finish line yet.
There was a pretty large crowd on hand for the meeting, with most of the attendees being senior citizens - many of them from the group who met in Lower South last week. During public comment they voiced their support of the Board's stand in the contract negotiations, and expressed their desire for a flat budget - yup, you got it - ZERO increase ... NADA ... BUPKIS! Sorry to disappoint those folks, but that's not going to happen. Or as my friends from the South would say, that dog won't hunt.
You can click here to read the Courier Times recap of last night's meeting. And just in case you're interested, here's another irate letter to the editor.
Our next Strategic Action meeting is Monday, March 16th, where I'm sure there will be more debate, anxiety and painful budget cuts. Sounds like fun, heh? See ya' there.