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Consider solutions to budget crises

April 07, 2010 - Dear Editor,

(In response to, "School cuts

'Deep, painful,' The Citizen, April 3,

2010, page 1.) I was blown away to

read about the proposed school cuts this

past week in The Citizen. While I understand

the budget situation and the position

of the board, many of these cuts

are simply unimaginable to our working

(and struggling) community members. I

greatly respect the board members and

know that developing a list of cuts to

reduce our budget deficit was no easy

task. However, I would propose that

they've only done half of their job in

determining the areas for reduction or

elimination. I would suggest (like a corporate

Board) that their "fiduciary duty"

is only partially financial.

Another part of their job is to maintain

the quality and integrity of our local

education system and I see very few

proposed alternatives outside of some

privatization (which I would support).

I'm not talking about alternative ways

to cut more money—I'm talking about

alternative solutions. I think it is imperative

now—more than ever—for the

Board to be creative in finding solutions

that minimize the impact of inevitable

cuts. Our community is full of intelligent,

caring individuals who might be engaged

to help develop alternatives. Opening

the board meetings to a community audience

is not enough—I'm suggesting a

proactive and purposeful solicitation

from our community members to assist

in resolving a handful of the most critical

and impactful cuts.

��For example, could we, as a district,

develop an internship program with

Oakland University or U of M Flint

where the district pays for credit hours

and gets Kindergarten/Special Ed

parapros each semester? Not ideal and

in no way intended to replace the wonderful

parapros we have now—but a

new way to tackle the problem.

�� Can our district become a pilot for

academic programs or curriculum materials

to offset cuts?

��Maybe the combination of privatizing

busing and the purchase of bus

passes would lessen the budgetary

blow—some families might be able to

provide transportation a couple of days,

but would be willing to purchase a bus

pass for the balance of the week—just

as you might if you used a bus to commute

to work? In already strapped economic

times, I know it's not possible for

the community to absorb many of these

costs directly, but if the alternative is purchasing

a bus pass vs. putting employment

at risk because parents are juggling

pick-ups/drop-offs, the pass might

be the lesser of the two evils. Or maybe

between a pass and a truant child—we

need to prioritize these kids!

I'm not suggesting that any of these

ideas are appropriate or sound, simply that

the community might find a way to come

together and collectively develop solutions

for some of the most critical items on the

list. Clearly we cannot resolve them all,

nor can the community absorb the full

impact of the deficit.

I would ask the board to find a purposeful

way to tap the caring and creative

community at its disposal—as part

of their fiduciary responsibility—in the

effort to retain some quality of education.

Please understand that I'm not suggesting

the board has failed to do their

job—they've had many difficult decisions

to make. Only that the process to arrive

at those decisions may have been so consuming

as to overlook "solutions" as an

approach, and only focus on budget cuts.

Patty Cox

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