F. Neil Folks: Cutting the ‘fat’
To the editor:
Perceptions can be devious. They all depend on from which viewpoint one is standing on viewing the world. Each of us will read the budget or listen to the presenters of the budget from our own perspective, from our basis of experience. And this is okay as a starter. However, before judgments are made, we best all be on the same page using the same definition of “fat.”
My perspective of “fat” is “Is the item to be cut going to affect the education of the child and its ability to compete in today’s high demanding world?” If it does, then it’s not “fat.” I don’t care if it’s in the classroom instruction, sports (which build team relationships), the arts (which develop the right side of the brain for future creativity) or the humanities, which teach the child who they are in the scheme of human development. For me, this defines the “mandate” to define “fat cutting.”
The purpose of Thursday night’s Special School Board meeting is to start engaging the parents and public in the forum discussion. It was not meant to be for the purpose of “answering” questions at this time. If it was, we’d still be delighting in a very long night and day forum. I’ve gone on their website and printed off a copy of the budget. Needless to say, I was very confused, mostly about the terminology being used. So I went to the administration office and had a very nice discussion with Ms. Gerber and Mr. Curtice.They enlightened me much, but I still have questions regarding understanding their system which is a mix of federal and state mandates and whatever else. I am planning on meeting them again to gain more understanding of their budge. I implore our citizenry of the district to do the same. They’d be happy to spend time with you, so don’t be afraid to do so.
Now for the presentation; they presented the opening comments in a way they thought would be most fitting for the audience. They said the district is in financial trouble. “As they see it.” The purpose was then to “listen” and get some “feeling” of public feedback and their reaction to this financial situation. To me this was a best way to start off what will be most likely one of many future public meetings. They can work on preparing answers to the questions asked in a more timely manner. However, I think the presentation was not fully understood by the public and the district administration will need to approach presenting the problems in a more clear and understandable way.
Yes, we heard and viewed some discrepancies in the presentations. Before we start jumping to making judgments and conclusions, let’s give them time to work on correcting this discrepancy in the numbers. As I mentioned earlier, trying to read the budget and a mixture of federal and state mandates, it can be easily misconstrued. All school officials need to get on the same page with what numbers they present us.
Right now, I can see the need for an ad hoc committee of public and school officials to give the budget a fine tooth combing. My suggestion would be to form an ad hoc committee of four public members that can be nonjudgmental and fair to the task of evaluation and four from the school district administration. One public member would be a certified auditor, one member each selected by the county commissioners and by the city council, and one member-at-large chosen through the public media, the editorial board.
Again, that which affects our children’s education to compete in the greater world is not “fat.” The community is only as strong as its educational system. We as a community can’t grow otherwise. Let’s resource together for our future. We’re building community.
There are many other problems looming on the horizon in our school infrastructure that maybe only a bond issue can handle and may be the cheapest way through it all.
There was not a large representation of community members present that night. Dividing 1,928 pupils by average family size of 2 children, there are 964 families in the community. There weren’t even a smidgen of this population present. Disappointing!
F. Neil Folks,
Craig property tax payer
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