Saturday, January 16, 2010

Education Budget Crisis: What to cut?

As the Nashua Board of Education faces the tough decision to vote on budget cuts for the 2010-2011 school year, many attempts to help resolve the issue have come forward. Next year the budget deficit will be noticeably larger affecting many aspects of the education system. The district is facing a $6 million deficit, allowing room only for more cuts. Rumors have been flying and officials are reaching decisions with difficulty. With so many aspects to consider the community has reached out and offered solutions and suggestions. The teachers, administrators, school board, superintendent, and mayor have all been working hard to find a middle ground within all the cuts for next year. Student’s have risen to the occasion and offered solutions as well.

Nashua High School South’s business law and accounting class was given the problem to solve the budget crisis. In response students prepared well researched well developed proposals and then presented them to the school board. A strong idea proposed was the idea of putting a Dunkin Donuts store in the school in place of the Credit Union bank that was closed last year. Many students stop by Dunkin Donuts before coming to school therefore this would be a great way to make money. Students proposed having a limited menu, only allowing products with 300 calories or less. Another student proposed the idea of allowing students to start up their own businesses. The school board would give students the money to get started; the profits would then go to the district. This would be an amazing learning opportunity for students in hands on way, definitely one of a kind.

I definitely see major benefits in having a Dunkin Donut’s in our school. Student’s run late very often due to getting coffee, if the coffee is within the school students will be more apt to get to school on time. On the other hand having coffee in the classrooms is a privilege that student’s no longer have due to spills and other issues. This would definitely be a problem but the pros outweigh the cons.

Another senior has started a group on Facebook proposing a “Save our Schools” plan. The group has been joined and supported by over 600 members and is still growing strong. On the page there is a long detailed plan of how exactly the money can be saved by making reasonable cuts for the school. The plan has been presented to the Nashua Teacher’s Unions and the word is being spread around the PTO’s of different schools as well as among the parents. Some of the highlights of the plan include saving the Advanced Placement classes (originally proposed to be cut out), not eliminate the job of Activities Coordinator at the school, and fixing technology issues. The plan proposes a new committee being formed at the Board of Education, the New Revenue Committee. Also ways to help raise funds include a District wide banquet, job fair for local businesses, and a benefit golf tournament. This is the simply the beginnings of an extensively researched plan.

Some other proposed budgets cuts so far have been cutting the Alvirne High School course option. Students have the opportunity to take a few select classes at a nearby high school. Cutting the costs of transporting students is estimated to save about $10,000.

Another large cut taken into consideration is the removal of the Pheonix program. The program, costing nearly $1 million dollars every year is meant to help at risk students throughout the school system. This decision would cause quite the rumble; students in the program look to it for support and a closer sense of community. However the amount of students in the program is only 69 this year, with 50 of the students going to high school next year. The decision is still quite upsetting, because these kids really need the help and support of this program. However under the circumstances, Superintendent Mark Conrad is trying to do the best he can do.

A report has come about of the principals and administrators of the district agreeing to skip their annual raises in order to save some money for the system. It is said this decision will save the district at least $110,000.

Lastly another proposed budget cut affecting the largest amount of people is the idea of having less class time and more study halls. Freshmen and sophomore would have a new scheduling system offering 3 full block classes, one 45 minute block and one study hall. The study hall and shortened class would run a full year, allowing only 7 credits opposed to the original 8. Right now the schedule is set to 4 blocks in one semester and then a new set of classes second semester. Additionally seniors would have the option of leaving early or coming in late to school as long as they had the credits needed to graduate. Both options combined will limit the amount of classes taken and the number of students in each class may increase.

Time can only tell what fate holds for the Nashua School District. Right now many of the proposals are up in the air, not much is can be confirmed. It is warming to know how many students are taking the initiative and finding resolutions for the problems at hand instead of simply complaining. Either way cuts are going to be made, someone will be unhappy, I can only hope for the best under the circumstances given.


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