More belt tightening

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

For the past decade, school districts around the area have had to face repeated budget cuts as the result of declining enrollment. This year is no exception, with numbers down in the Cherokee, Aurelia, Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn and River Valley districts.

Although many people don't realize it, school districts cannot raise taxes to whatever they feel they need to operate. The bulk of a school district's revenue is determined by a state formula that provides a per-pupil amount consistant throughout the state.

There are a few locally determined levies that are limited in amount and use. These are generally for such things as building improvements and equipment, not for operations.

Lower enrollment means a reduction in staff, usually a reduction in academic offerings.

Over the years, programs have been reduced or eliminated in area school districts, making fewer electives available to students.

There have been emotional appeals to save doomed programs, such as the effort in Cherokee that saved the strings program for a few years but that program was eventually reduced and then eliminated.

The school boards welcome creative ideas on making cuts but there appears to be no way to do so painlessly. We hope that the citizens of the area are respectful of the tough job faced by their school board representatives.