Over the next couple of weeks, area school districts will be holding annual budget hearings. This comes in the wake of school boards adopting its budgets – many of which came down to the wire this year.
And with the difficulties facing boards these days, the budget process truly begins in the fall to try and prepare for the many uncertainties that each district faces. This includes not knowing at the beginning of the process exactly how much state aid will be allotted in the state budget. A process that begins in January when the governor unveils his proposed spending plan.
Throw in the decisions around the property tax cap levy and school boards – whom a colleague of mine once called the most thankless job – leaves a group of people, who are voted in but unpaid, to make choices that are becoming increasingly more difficult year in and year out.
Another common theme is that of retirement costs. With these numbers on the rise, it creates headaches for districts because the numbers are what they are. They can not be touched.
What does that leave boards?
Trying to offer children a quality education while presenting a budget that is affordable for voters in each respective district. A balancing act that has led to an increase in layoffs. This comes in all forms. Teachers, administrators and other workers in the districts.
To save teachers – even if teachers took a wage freeze – would make tax rates too high for many voters.
If you look back at issues of The Sun in the last year, you’ll find discussions on budgets not only from January through May, but at points in the fall as well.
As voters begin to formulate several choices which will be presented to them at the polls May 21, including what school board candidates to vote for (except at Frontier, whose board will reduce from 9 to 7 members in July), what is at the heart of all of this is the impact on the students.
Nobody likes to pay more in taxes, including the board members themselves who worked on the budgets.
But is it fair to punish students, who have seen teachers let go at alarming rates in recent years?
Ultimately, is it most important for voters to vote in favor of giving children the best possible education or against the idea of seeing additional money taken out of your pockets?
We hope the students are the winners here because they deserve as many resources as possible to give them the best education.
• It was great to hear a lot of praise this past weekend for a pair of St. Francis High School graduates who became National Football League general managers in January, and ran their first drafts in the positions.
David Caldwell of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tom Telesco of the San Diego Chargers both had their work cut out for them. Caldwell took over a team that ended up with the second overall pick in the draft and after a lot of speculation as to what he planned to do with that pick, grabbed a big left tackle, Luke Joeckel, of Texas A&M, to build around.
His counterpart and friend in San Diego also grabbed an offensive tackle, D.J. Fluker of Alabama and then made headlines in the second round when he traded up for Notre Dame Linebacker Manti Te’o, who made news in January after he allegedly became the target of a hoax involving a woman he thought was his girlfriend, who he thought died of Leukemia in September.
We can only imagine that people from St. Francis paid close attention to how two of their alumni faired during the three-day NFL draft. It was great to see both of them front and center this weekend.
It will be fun to see how their teams progress in the next year or two and we wish them continued success in the National Football League... except when they play the Buffalo Bills of course.