Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Schools prepare for financially bleak year ... again

This from the News-Enterprise:

OUR VIEW:  Educational and economic issue needs new solutions
Hardin County and Elizabethtown Independent school districts recently adopted draft budgets, showing drops in Support Education Excellence in Kentucky money, the main source of revenue for Kentucky’s school districts. These SEEK funds will drop this year from $3,903 to $3,833 per student.

With the state carrying most of a school’s funding, budgeting can be a tricky business, particularly in a less than robust economy.

During the school year that just ended, for example, Hardin County Schools received $1.3 million less than expected in state funding. Now, that district plans to lose another $1.4 million with SEEK cuts. EIS also is working to get through cut on top of SEEK cut.

The recently approved plans are the second step in a three-step school budgeting process. Tentative budgets are approved early in the calendar year and a working budget, the most definite of school budgets, will be approved in September.

Salaries, as is the case for most employers, are the greatest expense. And salaries, as is the case for most of the middle class, aren’t increasing like they once did.

In both districts, teachers will receive what’s called a step increase — meaning they move up on the pay scale because they’ve gained experience — but no other raises are budgeted at this time.

That means something inside and outside the classroom. Certainly, we should flitch at anything endangering education standards. But as one of the largest industries in the county, school districts and their budgets simply are a local economic issue, too.

Consider Hardin County Schools alone. That’s 2,655 people — 2,106 of them are full-time employees — who probably won’t be improving their buying power until at least the second half of 2013. That might mean delaying a home or car purchase or just keeping the firm grip on household budgets. It’s not good news for business throughout our community.

Schools are a key to long-range economic development and improving Kentuckians quality of life. Period. It’s not time to debate its worthiness.

Instead, it’s time to start creating new solutions to protect schools, even go so far as to make them recession proof.

When will enough be enough? When the workforce of the future is pitiful and the workers apologize for learning to read during an economic downturn?

We need big ideas at the legislative level. We need big ideas for educating our children less expensively — that’s different from simply doing more with less, by the way. We need big ideas for creating new or redirected tax revenues.

No more broad solutions puffed up with jargon and tied down with excuses. There’s too much at risk to do any less.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps if legislator's compensation and terms of service were tied to the academic performance of the school districts within their area of representation, they might be less inclined to be so disengaged in their school systems' support mechanisms.

Anonymous said...

Wonder how UK staff reductions are going to impact public opinion about government approach to support of education. Who is going to polish the new NCAA trophy once Coach Cal finishes his tour of it around the state?

Anonymous said...

As we look at a one million dollar expenditure for the next four years of our re-up commissioner's salary (don't think that includes the "educational trips" to global educational powerhouses like Brazil and China), I think what is so disheartening to teachers is the ever growing and even conflicting expectations being imposed on them without any real support or resources (sorry tweetfests and webinars are not much help, especially when you schedule them during the school day when folks are actually teaching the kids.). We have created a system which is superficial paper shuffling and not real investments in teaching kids. Just discouraging with little hope in the near future. At least our commissioner has indicated that his next four years are going to be spent working with teachers and in the schools. I guess we will see but I don't think he is going to like what he sees and hears.