Letter to the Editor

What are the goals of new school committee?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

To the Editor:

What is the goal of the cost-cutting committee that was formed by the Clay Community School Corporation?

At its first meeting, the committee was informed in the broadest of terms of how the corporation's budget is determined, how the various funds are used, and of the broad financial picture along with a "best guess," forecast for the future.

During the second meeting, the committee was broken down into smaller groups and given a listing of suggestions from the Indiana School Board of Education's Citizens Checklist in addition to suggestions brought forward during building-level meetings, asked to list cost-cutting suggestions that did not affect personnel.

There were a few new suggestions, however, most of what the groups came up with were already listed, therefore, the "wheel was re-invented."

At the next meeting, the planned agenda is the same, only looking at personnel issues.

If the goal of the committee is only to send to the Board of Trustees a shortened list of suggestions that may or may not be feasible, educationally prudent, or even cost-reducing, why waste the utility costs of the building in which the committee meets as the unabridged list already exists?

There is a suggestion on the list that would serve the board better, that of hiring a consultant to make researched recommendations.

If the purpose of the committee is to send a list of feasible, educationally prudent, cost-reducing options, then the committee needs to get started on the task and must be given the information that it needs to analyze the corporation's current finances, assets and operations so as to be able to deduce the effects the cost-cutting suggestions would have on the corporation and education within it.

From the list of suggestions that was printed in The Brazil Times' article concerning the committee Oct. 20, 2010, I'm going to illustrate the types of questions that need to be asked and answered by this committee before recommendations are presented to the board.

First, on the suggestion of a four-day school week, does Indiana law allow that as the law states that students will attend school 180 days per year?

The fact is that it does not, students will be there 180 days so there would be no cost reduction.

On changing the lights to control by motion sensors, how much is this going to cost to implement?

How much can it save?

And how long to recoup the investment before an actual reduction in costs is realized?

The suggestion of using reusable serving trays instead of disposable ones in the cafeterias is on the list, but are the cafeterias equipped to wash them in a timely manner and how many more employee hours would we pay?

The same question applies to using less pre-packaged foods and cooking more "from scratch."

It's time to start asking questions about current costs and practices and coming up with reasonable estimates of the effect change would bring or the committee is just wasting the assets of time and money.

Leo L. Southworth,