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Saturday, August 30, 2014

District now cutting bone

Posted Thursday, January 21, 2010, at 2:02 PM

To Gov. Butch Otter's credit, every time he has ordered a holdback in state funding, due to declining state revenues, education has been asked to take less of a hit than other state agencies.

But between the holdbacks, and funding constraints imposed by the legislature in the last five years (even when things were good), there is no question education is suffering.

Meanwhile, the state keeps asking school districts to do more with less. Eventually, things are going to reach a breaking point. For the Mountain Home School District, that point has been reached.

The reserves are gone, the district no longer exceeds state standards for teachers and administers and some very painful cuts are in the future -- unless the voters agree to pick up the slack from the state and replace the funding needs of the district with a special, one-time property tax.

The district is going to ask the public where it should make cuts in hopes it can find ideas that work and to help avoid seeking a special levy.

But frankly, the chances that somebody is going to come up with something the district hasn't already considered -- and already implemented -- are slim.

It would be a shame if the only programs left were the basics of reading, writing and mathematics. That's three classes for a school day.

Do we really want to cut programs such as drama, debate, music, art, advanced placement classes and athletics? No. Each has a valuable purpose in inspiring and motivating students. The dropout rate is already way too high (roughly one in three students) and slashing programs that keep kids, even good students, in school is not a good idea.

Should we cut back on those programs? The district may have to, but if it does, it means there will be fewer openings for students to access those programs.

Should the state cut back on the unfunded mandates it imposes on the schools? Certainly, although many districts actually would prefer to keep some of those mandated programs, such as the math initiative. Cutting back on mandates would give districts more local control over how their money is spent. A lot of it is out of their hands right now, anyway.

But for the legislature, local control seems to mean pushing districts to convince the voters to tax themselves more, locally, so the state doesn't have to pay for these programs.

This has got to stop. If the state mandates a program, it needs to have the moral courage to raise the necessary taxes to fund it, not slip the responsibility downward.

Frankly, we just don't see many good options for the school district. There's no fat -- or even muscle -- left. The cuts are now deep into bone.

For our children and grandchildren to survive in the 21st century we need expanded education, not a reduction in educational capabilities.

This is going to hurt in many ways, at many, many levels.


Comments
Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Question for you, Would you support paying more taxes than you already do?

Second one, If not education then tell me where you would decrease the expenditures?

Third, Do you think that Idahoans could be convinced to support additional taxation?

-- Posted by twilcox1978 on Thu, Jan 21, 2010, at 6:20 PM

The last time I remember hearing, the local supertendant for our district was making over $100,000 per year. That a pretty good salery!

New teachers always start out making less than

20 and 30 year veterans. They do a better job

than the older teachers too because they still have a passion to teach.

Maybe we can find some people that will do these jobs for less money.

-- Posted by Savage2506 on Thu, Jan 21, 2010, at 6:21 PM

I say stop the paying the tax for the WECRD and divert that tax to the schools. At least they show they are doing something with the money besides spending it on themselves.

-- Posted by Old guy on Thu, Jan 21, 2010, at 9:19 PM

People, wake-up...stop bickering about teachers pay...the pay of teachers and administrators has NOTHING to due with the current problems of Idaho public education, it has everything to do with our "elected" state officials who don't have the moral courage to do the right thing.

The fundamential problem with public education in Idaho is that lawmakers do want to pay for public edcuation. However, the state funds "charter schools", why is the state funding private schools, and under funding public schools? The answer...Gov. Otter and the state legislators have a "hidden agenda"...to cut and slash social programs to include public education. They fully support charter schools so the state won't have to fund public education and deal with the teachers union (union busting).

Idaho is a breeding ground for the soo-call "tea-party" movement, which plans on elminating all TAXES.

Idaho ranks in the lower half of all states for funding public education, teacher pay, special programs. However, the state ranks in the top percentile in students not seeking higher education.

The tax payers in this state just flipped the bill...$ 150 million worth in renovating the state house and millions more for a college football coach. Where are the state's priorities?

Meanwhile, by increasing the state's sales tax by 1 cent (penny) from 6 to 7% it would raise almost $200 million for education...but the our state elected officials...right wing conservatives flattly reject ANY tax increase...is a penny asking so much for our children?

I for one will stand behind our schools and will assist them in anyway possible. Tough decisions will have to be made by ordinary folks like you and I. We "must" work together with our school district to find workable soluations.

In the mean time, this is a election year and many state officals are up for re-election, especially Gov. Otter. Let's make a statement this November and wipe the slate clean. We need a education friendly govenor and legislator who doesn't have a hidden agenda.

If we work togehter with our schools we can do ANYTHING. I encourage all of you who believe that we must do better for our children,let the district know that we support them, and will stand behind them in making tough choices, and doing want must be done for the benefit of our chidlren.

Make your voices be heard, write to our state law makers, let them know that our children's future will not be mandated by a polictical agenda. Our children's future depends on what WE do right now...it's our moral obligation to say enough is enough and to take a STAND!

-- Posted by DUMBFOUNDED IN IDAHO on Fri, Jan 22, 2010, at 5:00 PM

My family has already given above and beyond in order to help this school district when my wife's paraprofessional job was taken away last May after faithfully serving this district for over 14+ years. I recommend everyone else who works for the district do likewise and take a $15,000 decrease in pay like our family did.

-- Posted by kerbyone on Mon, Jan 25, 2010, at 10:38 AM

kerby, I hope you will attend the meeting in early February. It is listed on the MHSD web page.

-- Posted by OpinionMissy on Mon, Jan 25, 2010, at 1:53 PM

kerbyone, start your research from a few years ago and see who was given jobs that really didn't exsist, you can check how much the admin.salaries are here compared to larger and more modern schools, way too much nepotism for my liking, and some are not even qualified for the position they have. sorry for your wifes job loss I too hope you'll both show up for the meeting.

-- Posted by Stinger on Tue, Jan 26, 2010, at 8:06 AM

Bakookaman, obviously by the sound of your comment you must be one of those ultra-liberals that thinks everything is rosy. If you think the US Congress lives on a budget, you are obviously smoking something illegal. Have you heard of the deficit? You may not know but the US Congress votes themselves a pay raise every year. And each and every congressman has free unlimited healthcare. We do need a clean slate. If your representative isn't working for your interests, vote them out. There's no such thing as seniority anymore. But a novel idea would be to have term limits. If you can't do anything in two terms, you're not fit for the job.

-- Posted by GFYS69 on Tue, Mar 2, 2010, at 12:07 AM


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