Citizens add advice to school budget effort
Most of the time, for the average citizen, the idea of taking part in school district budget discussions has all the appeal of having a root canal without novocaine.
But tough times often call for drastic action. And that seems to be the impetus behind the independent local group, Save Our Schools, which is exploring ways to cut millions more from the School District 51 budget. The group plans to make recommendations to the school board on where it believes cuts can be made most effectively, with the least impact to education.
We commend the parents and others who have joined Save Our Schools and are willing to slog through the minutiae of school finances while seeking to advise the district in a positive and knowledgeable manner.
The group was formed in early November, after voters in District 51 shot down a ballot measure that would have allowed the district to increase its property tax mill levy to raise an estimated $12 million more each year.
Without that money, and because more cuts in state funding are anticipated, the district expects it will have to cut an additional $3 million to $10 million from next year’s school budget.
Members of Save Our Schools worry that the latest round of budget cuts, coming in the wake of three years’ worth of District 51 cuts totaling more than $28 million, could be too much for the local education system if they aren’t made judiciously.
“I want my kid to be able to go to public school, but I want it to be a quality education,” said Amy Agapito, a member of the Save Our Schools board.
It is an understandable sentiment, shared by many parents in this community, no doubt. But rather than simply hope for the best outcome, the parents and other community members involved in Save Our Schools are digging into the budget details so they can offer thoughtful advice to the school board in February, when it considers the next round of budget cuts.