Letter to the editor
'It's time for shared sacrifice'
November 25, 2009 - Dear editor,
The main points I drew from the recent budget meeting at Scripps Middle School:
Michigan must find a way to provide a stable, reliable, sustainable source of funding for our schools.
Staff salaries and benefits are the largest item in the LOCS budget.
Ideally, we want to retain staff and retain/enhance classroom instruction, but this takes more money than we have (now and in the foreseeable future).
Until our state legislature gets its act together, we're stuck with these budget cutbacks, at least the next two years.
Discussion with other parents reveals the painful reality that the non-education sectors in Michigan have been suffering from the economic downturn for years.
The parents of students, especially those working in the auto industry, have seen their jobs cut, hours/days cut, salaries cut, and have had to pay more toward their monthly health insurance premiums (often a percentage of one's salary) and deductibles (companies are not subsidizing health care to the degree they were years ago).
Many people don't work for companies that offer health insurance; on their own in individual plans, they are paying upwards of $1,200/mo in premiums and $5,000 in deductibles, and it makes me shudder.
Of course we want to pay our teachers and other staff well; they have an important job, educating our future citizens.
However, these are unprecedented times, and these budget cutbacks are now threatening cuts at the classroom level, eating into the curriculum, harming the education of our students.
I hope that the union, school board, and administrators will realize that It's time for shared sacrifice. How can they not look at what happened at GM and Chrysler and think they are immune?
Meanwhile, I'll be listening with keen interest during a panel discussion on Michigan's budget and tax reform in East Lansing, sponsored by the Center for Michigan.
It will be interesting to see what a band of concerned citizens can do about finding innovative ways to fund Michigan's key priorities.
I know that education is at the top of the list for Center for Michigan members. I imagine there must be a combination of tax cuts and tax increases involved; the details are in the what/how/who.
Michigan residents need to realize that services don't come free and if we want public education, libraries, well-maintained roads, police protection, etc., then we must pay taxes in some form (income, sales, property, other) to fund them.
Amy Marcaccio Keyzer