School budget a valuable lesson

TO: THE ORCAS ISLAND SCHOOL BOARD

As the coverage in the Sounder stated, and the editorial reiterated, “with a $667,000 deficit, everyone is going to be hurt”.

An excellent way to help the community and the students understand the situation, and to be supportive, not angry at any necessary cuts, is for the budget to be widely available and studied by the students, as a tangible math lesson. Where does it come from, where does it go, how do we prioritize what we are by law to prioritize. We suggest that the school board, perhaps in conjunction with the upcoming open house, follow last years great example of listing the expenses for each academic program on the doors of the classrooms – and add visual presentations of all the other budget items, ALL extra curricular, staff and administrative expenditures, and involve the students in the process. It could be amazing how they think “outside the boxes” so many of their elders are stuck in.

According to the report, a part-time custodian will be hired at $14,691 for the remainder of the school year. Not to sound excessively, “In my day”…still – In my day – all students from 2nd grade on cleaned their classrooms daily, sweeping the floors, washing off desks and as a reward, washing the blackboards. We also picked up litter around the school-grounds and planted the flower beds.

If the students and the public were made aware, for instance, of the fuel, insurance and other costs related to transporting sports teams to the mainland for competitive events, particularly compared with this expense several years ago, these costs could then be compared with eliminating academic programs, maintenance to the local sports fields, etc. The idea of multiple INTRA-MURAL sports programs could be very attractive, both financially and in the involvement of more students in sports activities. The large expense of maintaining the playing fields could be lowered with help from the big, strong athletes who use them.

These ideas might not produce gigantic savings, but they involve our young people to produce pride in their school – their home for a good part of their lives. At the open house last year some of the children were asking for donations to keep academic programs alive in what was thought a one-time emergency. Asking for donations is easier, but much less valuable an experience for children than participating in the upkeep of their home.

This year it is unrealistic to expect the community to again respond with hundreds of thousands of dollars unless a huge effort is made to evaluate and save every $ and that everyone , including the students, contribute to the solutions.

Andrea and Hugh Hendrick live in Eastsound