To the editor:
The school board has been elected to operate USD 497 schools, not to close elementary schools. Students and parents do not desire fewer locations. They want, and have paid for, the convenience and value of having neighborhood schools.
The voters decide when and where schools are opened, upgraded, or closed via bond issues. Previous school boards made recommendations to previous generations of voters. New schools were built with voters’ approval; those voted down were not built. The value of the local school is expressed by the voters’ willingness to fund its capital cost; when it no longer has value voters will veto improvements. The school board should not thwart generations of voters who approved the current schools.
Businesses and households are doing with less. USD 497 must do the same.
Members of the board have asked for suggestions. Do what businesses and parents have done: Decrease expenses across the board. USD 497 is chock-full of highly educated administrators; hold them accountable to administrate. Department heads, principals and administrators need to provide a bottom-up budget that reflects a 10 percent reduction. Experienced leaders are capable of managing a reduced budget; please let them.
Combine classes or grades, combine jobs (dual role principal and teacher), share principals, and even reduce salaries or personnel. Reduce extracurricular activities or provide them on a fee-for-service basis. The district administration center must account for its bloated budget and cut it. We trust you to manage our schools. Please, don’t lose our trust by closing, rather than managing, schools.