To the editor:
Weeks ago, the USD 497 administration solicited community assistance to find creative ways to close the budget shortfall. After significant haggling, parents finally gained access to closely guarded spreadsheets depicting where our tax dollars go. Multiple people representing many diverse views developed creative, reasonable options that preserve educational programs, limit class size and prevent school closures.
Responding to significant pressure from parents, the administration provided a table of incomplete and illogical phrases on the USD 497 Web site as a response. At board meetings, we are given illogical and rambling statements, and comments about how communities can simply “rebuild” if a school is closed. Is the choice, as some would have us believe, simply between closing schools vs. preserving class size and educational programs?
An analysis of class sizes with school closures suggests this is not the case, but input like this isn’t being publicized or discussed. As with budget ideas, this input is dismissed. No, the real choice is between intelligent use of dwindling tax dollars vs. succumbing to the siren call of purported efficiency.
If the administration wants this community to understand why closing schools is the most efficient option, they need to address us directly, fully discuss our suggestions with us, and tell us in a transparent manner why our incorporation of externalities into the equations really isn’t efficient. Anything less is disrespectful, particularly after soliciting our input, and implies a hidden agenda. My 4-year-old understands about personal responsibility in relationships. Why can’t our elected officials and administration?