Hardly anyone can have any type of conversation without bringing up the economy as we discuss how young and old strive to make ends meet. Whether its' national, state or at the local level, everyone is feeling the pinch. Now I know I am going to rub a few folks wrong but try to hear me out and think about it.
A couple of weeks ago on one of the Sioux City TV stations, the guy who heads up the Sioux City teacher's union was voicing his sentiments about the fact that the teaching staff deserved a eight percent increase for next year, and yes, the teaching staff there realized the economy is not good but the public certainly wouldn't want to make cuts when it affected children's education.
After all, if you would be against it, you'd be in line with those who are against motherhood and apple pie. I've heard this guy before and he totally rubs me wrong. This much of an increase when many are losing their jobs left and right, is ridiculous. Remember, teachers automatically receive more pay just for teaching another year (tenure). But for some, they do not consider this as a raise.
Recently, I was reading in the paper how many schools are operating over their budget. A couple were small school systems who were only a few thousand over and believe that small amount will be negated through retirement in the coming year. Several schools are operating in a six-figure deficit this year. They are in a heap of trouble. The majority of schools strive to operate in the black and have cut programs as well as staff to get the job done.
In visiting with teachers around the area, many have voiced their concerns about cuts. Most understand the need for cuts. I think it is time for the Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn School board to make some reductions. We have great teachers but there just aren't enough students to warrant spending all those dollars for only 10-12 students per class. The lower grades have very small numbers. Each heated room has to be managed wisely. Luckily, the fuel didn't climb to where many thought it would go. How fortunate for schools and taxpayers.
In visiting with former board members and staff, cuts should be expected and hard choices made.
It isn't a matter of wanting to cut to cut. It's just doing what it takes to keep the district solvent and not let it slide past what common sense would dictate. The board has some tough decisions to make and everyone wants to keep a school solvent for their community. For 20 plus years, Cleghorn, Meriden and Marcus have pulled together to be successful in having an excellent school system. Through working together, three communties have come together to provide quality education. Each of the the three towns couldn't have done it without the other. I think this coming year will present some challenges. Some drastic steps need to be taken.
Aurelia also a serious decision to make. What would be best for their students should be the determining factor. Working something out with Alta or Cherokee could build a strong viable district. Cherokee could use their students but would have little use for a building site.
If a guy could roll the clock back before Cherokee built their present middle school building, a county-wide system could have been worked out. But as most people in most small towns would tell you, they want to keep their school system as long as possible. The belief is keeping towns viable throught maintaining the school or at least a portion of it.
Although Marcus is still adding businesses, they still need children to add to the enrollment. The MMC board may seriously need to consider closing yet another building and only use the gym portion for sport activities. Each class space is going to be very valuable and evaluated for the good of the whole school system.
Sharing administrators is an idea that is working for some districts and others will certainly follow that idea.
I hope that communites will work together to provide better education in times when the economy is going to make many hurt. Many in the legislature see sharing as the way for Iowa to keep producing quality education for it's children.