Cuts made, now let's work for the future
One of the unfortunate byproducts of the just-completed round of District 518 budget reductions is that divisions have been re-opened. The biggest division, and one that has been keenly felt by local school leaders, is the one between public perc...
One of the unfortunate byproducts of the just-completed round of District 518 budget reductions is that divisions have been re-opened. The biggest division, and one that has been keenly felt by local school leaders, is the one between public perceptions and Board of Education perceptions regarding administration staffing. No matter how much money is trimmed from administration, a portion of the public seems to want more. Responding, an exasperated board on Tuesday made certain not only that administrative cuts were made, but that the percentage of these administrative cuts were pointed out to a skeptical public.
Statistics were offered to hammer home the fact that, yes, this board is listening to citizens who desire that the administration feels their pain. One board member revealed that if the entire school budget were cut evenly and equitably across the board, administration cuts for 2006-2007 would amount to 3.81 percent. But $130,000 (or about 25 percent) of Tuesday's approximately $500,000 in reductions came from administration, according to the Superintendent John Landgaard's own estimate.
One may disagree that the Assistant Special Programs Director position, the building and grounds position and the activities coordinator position all qualify under the "administration" heading, but nobody can argue that by reducing those positions administrative personnel will be expected to fill in the resulting gaps -- thereby spreading themselves even thinner in the process.
Even before these cuts were made, District 518 ranked below the state average in the percentage of the overall budget devoted to administrative duties.
It's now time for local residents to set aside their anti-administration grievances and work with the Board of Education to improve Worthington schools for everybody.
Are we upset that programs and positions are being taken away? We are, and we should be. Are we upset that students are now missing some of the opportunities they used to have? Absolutely. But what we all must understand is that when a school board is forced to trim half a million dollars from a budget, painful decisions must be made.
Board members have a responsibility to ensure that the district continues to have an administration capable of running a school system -- especially a system such as ours, which is uniquely challenging in many ways. If we expect to run a school district "on the cheap" by paying undue attention to the political motivations of a few (in part, no doubt, inspired by jealousy), we will regret it in the long run.
So let us all refrain from pitting one "side" against the other and looking for scapegoats. If we really want to help our students, we should focus our attention on passing the next operating referendum that will be on the ballot in November.