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As others see it: School budget cuts are messy, painful

Mason City (Iowa) Globe Gazette

School days, school daze, things are changing every day in our schools daze.

That’s education for you in 2014, the year of cash-strapped school districts that are forced to do more with less.

Extraordinary, sometimes-painful changes are occurring, necessitated by a shortsighted Legislature that — for whatever reason — seems to have no clue of the results of its insufficient, inconsistent funding. It’s all a matter of politics, and it’s sickening to have to go through these cuts time and again.

We dare not lump all legislators in that same light. State Rep. Sharon Steckman, a former teacher, lamented on her Facebook page: “Feeling sick about all the cuts to MCCS and public education. It is so sad that public education has become a political issue and if we want change we need to let our voices be heard.”

Those changes she refers to are the position eliminations in the Mason City School District, part of some $3.2 million in general fund spending cuts for 2014-15. The general fund is primarily designated for salaries, thus the major cuts come from that area. Reductions are being made by eliminating positions and not replacing those who have resigned or are retiring early.

These reductions will hit hard, and we can’t help but think students will suffer for it in one way or another, and that is most painful of all. So, it’s all led to gloomy days in our school buildings recently, learning which teachers will stay and which will go. ...

There will be help in the next budget year when local voter-approved levies start infusing cash into the district. But for now, these cuts must be dealt with. The district has until May 15 to make decisions on administration cuts. Not everyone will like the final decisions but something must be done, and done so that students feel the least impact possible.

Then if you’re angry and upset, there’s an election coming up and you can do something about it in the ballot box.