Thursday, December 23, 2010

Budget time again.....

We are a homeschooling family yet we have a vested interest in the health of our town’s public schools.  When Greg and I were looking to purchase our home, we wanted a neighborhood that resembled the ones we grew up in, where neighbors knew each other, cared about the children and was supported by a local neighborhood school.  We found all of these in our neighborhood. 
Even though my girls no longer attend this school, my friend’s children do.  Just because our family made an alternative choice to educate our girls, we realize that at some point they may want to return to public school.  While I think this is less likely for Lilah, I have always felt that Grace’s path in education may be very different, and she may want to return for middle school, or high school.  
I fear that the system she left may be very different from the one she would return to.  Once again, it is budget time in our town.  Our town’s superintendent is infamous for threatening  layoffs and closures should her proposed budget meet resistance.  Now she is professing an estimated increase in medical costs of over 50% and a reduction in state funding necessitating in a hard look at teacher layoffs and school closings.  Rumor has it that of the 7 elementary schools in town, our 80 year old school is one of the top choices for closure.  
While this may not have a direct impact on my children's education, it certainly will on my girl’s friends, who will no longer be able to walk to the school they have attended for years.  They will have larger class sizes on top of their already longer school days.  They will not have the comfort of knowing their teachers, classmates and administrators.  There will be big adjustments.  Honestly, I am glad this will not affect me or my girls.  Selfishly, I worry about how this will affect my property values.  
Will people buy into a neighborhood with a closed school, where their children will be bussed to another school in town?  Our school was a huge draw.  Our neighborhood will still have the park and playground, the sports fields and proximity to Main Street.  It will still have neighbors that care for one another, who come out in times of need and lend helping hands.  But when we drive down the main road, past the brick building with the perennial gardens and bike rack, standing there vacant, silent, old, we will all wonder what will become of it.  Another school that was closed in 2005 became an administrative building for the Board of Education.  It is still used, just for a different function.  Hopefully an alternative use for the building could be found.  It would make a great community center.  Would it be torn down and converted to a park or playground?  It is in the heart of our community.  I fear in this time of recession, diminishing budgets, and cost cutting, it will fall into disrepair and become an eyesore.  That is my greatest fear.  
While I have no immediate plans to move, our home is our largest financial investment.   I may not attend the first meeting being held January 3rd.  The public is invited to attend, but is not welcome to speak.  I would feel awkward telling people that I chose to remove my children from the town’s education system yet for reasons other than education, I don’t want the schools to close. 

 The school system is broken.  It is not working.  Dumping money year after year into funding unproductive programs is not helping.  I will write a letter to the Board of Education voicing my opinion to keep the school open.  Not that it will matter.  I have learned first hand that fighting the system is darn near impossible and without massive strength in numbers, parents are just parents, and are unimportant in the overall planning and manipulating of finances, head counts and payroll. 

But I always say that you can’t complain if you don’t seek to change, and so I will seek not so much a change, but simply more of the same.


Karen said...

I love and admire how you keep up with education issues that do not affect your family. It speaks volumes of you as a person and a Mom. I hope your school doesn't close. When I was growing up I was always able to walk to school. It was such a great memory. So many kids never have that opportunity.

Karen said...

Merry Christmas to you and your family. Kei and I are so blessed to have met you and have you and your girls in our lives.

Hope this is a blessed day and amazing new year.
Hugs and love.

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