Bulletin editorial: 833 budget input neededSchool Board members – and District 833 students – would benefit from feedback from parents and taxpayers on the district budget questions in play.
It was not long ago that throngs of concerned parents and residents turned out for public meetings on School District 833’s Spanish immersion program. A number of factors led to the outpouring of parent input late last year, but at the core for many was a concern about how their child’s education could be affected by Spanish immersion expansion proposals.
The district now is faced with a different set of difficult proposals, this time dealing with spending cuts and other budget adjustments for the 2011-12 school year – and how those decisions could shape future years. School Board members are considering nearly $5 million in reduced services and other budget changes. It may seem an abstract issue – until school officials start talking about the possibility of raising class sizes, eliminating an anti-drug program, reducing staffing for lunchroom and hallway supervision, or making a number of other changes.
These and other budget-saving proposals were discussed in detail at a School Board workshop last week. Public turnout was nonexistent. School Board members – and District 833 students – would benefit from feedback from parents and taxpayers on the budget questions in play.
For instance, should the district rely on reserve funds to balance next year’s budget? Should it make more spending cuts to balance the books? What about a mixture of reserve funds and spending cuts? And what about those proposed teacher-student ratio increases of one-half student per class? Would that increase be hardly noticed, as administrators said recently, or is any increase problematic to parents? (The recommendation to increase the class-size ratio has been rejected, at least preliminarily, by the School Board.)
School Board members will meet March 24 to set staffing ratios for the next school year. The meeting is open to the public. Final budget decisions are not made until June, but decisions made at the upcoming meeting will influence how the final budget is shaped, how school staffing and programs change and, most importantly, how students are affected.
Those difficult decisions could be made easier with public input.