Mr. Rainwater says, “We are long past the time that we can solve our revenue cap problems by being more efficient or eliminating things that are nice but not necessary (March 2005 Budget Discussion Items Report – basically, budget cut document). Without the budget, this is a scary statement. Sadly, a budget would show this statement to be a scare tactic.
What’s scary to me is that we may indeed need a referendum, but the current board’s weak governance, lack of public discussion and review, alienation of many public groups won’t be able to make the case, because educating the entire child and excellent instruction for all are not driving the board’s priorities. That scares me.
The data will tell another story when the budget is released in May 2005 – extras are still in the budget and targeting academic programs goes unchecked. Money is being spent on administrators ($1.5 million increase in two years) and extracurricular high school sports ($2 million) while elementary children’s fine arts curriculum is hammered – elementary strings (teaching 1,800 children) is eliminated and elementary fine arts cuts total $750,000.
Millions will be spent on a reading intervention that only serves first grade and an evaluation last fall showed Reading Recovery to be no better than other strategies (such as strategies using more phonics), and simple statements are given to the public without a board meeting or board discussion about why the Superintendent turned away $10 million (over 4 years) in Reading First money.