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The major fiscal crises that is upon us may have a huge and adverse impact on our schools. With local school revenues almost certain to drop in the next few years, it is essential to look closely at how we can still maintain the current high level of schooling and avoid the usual pitfalls of cutting back programs to make ends meet.
First of all parents should be encouraged to engage in any talks about teacher or course reductions that may take place in the schools. Second, parents should be willing to go the extra mile, even if it means transporting their children, changing some school hours, or helping in the library or lunch rooms. Third, parents need to indicate they do not want to see significant cut backs, particularly in the academic areas. Fourth, parents should to find out what their school board has in mind in the months ahead and be a part of the decision making process. And finally at this critical time we all need to be willing, if necessary, to support a small tax increase if needed for the education of our children.
We are headed for some hard times. But we have weathered difficult times before. We cannot let our schools or children suffer. We have been so very lucky in this region to have quality schools and opportunities that many other nations’ children never have.
We may have to negotiate, choose between alternatives, perhaps delay some new programs, but with eagle eyes and careful analysis we can keep the quality of education from declining. Our children should not have to shoulder the sins of the terrible financial situation we now find ourselves in. Even if we have to make some compromises we should be prepared to fight for what is best for our school children. They deserve all of our efforts on their behalf.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Susan Uchitelle is a consultant for the Voluntary Interdistrict Coordinating Council.