Letter to the Editor

Maximum education, minimum cost

Sunday, January 24, 2010

To the Editor:

Recently, Gov. Daniels announced that funding cuts will be made to General Fund payments to K-12 across Indiana.

School corporations around the state began a mad scramble to find ways to cut costs, but not Clay Community Schools. Many of the suggested methods coming out of state government, we are already doing and we are maintaining, percentage-wise, more of a cash balance than other corporations.

While many corporations operate with cash balance that will cover operating expenses for a couple of weeks, CCS reserves a higher amount. We have maneuvered into this portion over several years by saving money by not filling some teaching positions when teachers are lost to attrition, energy conservation, and other, more minor ways. We have little to worry about.

Or do we?

Isn't education what the school corporation is all about? We have teachers teaching dual classes in our high schools, trying to teach two levels of the same subject at the same time in the same classroom. We have started using our credit recovery computer program, NovaNet, to teach courses to students in what is essentially independent study in some of our advanced classes. Most of the teachers we have not replaced have been from the elementary levels, where for years, our teachers have been telling us they don't have time to teach. There is something wrong when we are told that we don't have to worry about funding cuts when this is the situation.

Education dollars flow into CCS to educate students and support that education. The corporation is not a bank designed to hold money, but a tool of the taxpayer to deliver education to students. For the corporation to hold back from fully doing so to maintain a financial situation so that people in "the worry seat" need not worry means that the corporation is delivering less education than the taxpayer is paying for to the students.

I applaud the school board for not rebuilding the bus barn in its current location. I find it highly ironic that much of the reasoning used to justify that decision is the same reasoning I presented in the discussion concerning consolidation of two elementary schools into one new building to save money and alleviate replacing all of our elementary schools in a short period in some 40 years.

Maximum education at minimum cost should always be on our decision-makers' minds. If you are in the "worry seat," you are being paid to worry, not to withhold education that is paid for by the taxpayers to be delivered to students so that you have no need to worry about financial obligations at some future point.

All education is essential to our students and in the face of funding cuts we should always be forced to look at making cuts, not in nonessentials as there should never be such in our budget, but in what is least educational.

Holding money is not using the money wisely to accomplish the goal.

Leo L. Southworth,