Friday, April 19, 2013

PCS: Thoughts About Cuts

 I see a pattern being revisited each year since the state aid cuts that began as a result of the 2008 economic crisis. Namely, different interest groups lobby for a particular department or position by both praising that department and, too often, by suggesting reasons to cut another department/position instead. This helps no one and hurts everyone.

Consider these questions:
  1. Should PCS become a magnet school for music and STEM? This could draw students from other school districts, NYS aid would follow those students, and programs would be improved. If this sounds like a good idea, don't lobby to cut music or STEM teachers.
  2. Should athletics be brought up each year as a place to cut? Athletics are a great outlet for students in ways too numerous to list. In addition, in a $27 million budget, athletics will cost between $300,000 and $400,000 or .01% of the budget. Case closed. Ditto for extracurriculars.
  3. Shouldn't concerned citizens unite and support student programs and positions rather than pushing "the other guy" off the cliff?
  4. Should we have a school with no Business Department? Recently, an economist on NPR said that the lack of financial literacy among the nation's youth is at a crisis level. What is the plan behind the cuts? Should the cuts be driven by attrition or by what most protects the education of students?
  5.  The 2011-12 budget was unspent by almost $1 million dollars. In addition, on the March 7, 2013 budget report, there was $1.975 million dollars in unspent funds. This suggests that there will be at least $1 million dollars unspent in this year's budget. Could the BOE use some of this $1 million to save some jobs? The fact the the BOE voted against restoring a part-time music position to full-time shows that 4 board members may not have a good grip on the assets unspent in this year's budget or a clear vision for the need to support one of the jewels in the crown of the PCSD - music. This might sound a bit harsh but I believe it to be true: a Board without a vision makes just this sort of wrongheaded decision.
  6. Should the AAK principal positon be filled? Could the other principals handle the work so that a teacher position (and maybe an aide as well) could be saved? At the very least, there should have been an in-depth public discussion about this topic.


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