Nothing but Bare Bones for the Students
Nothing but Bare Bones for the Students
Moscow parents can only hope that once the Moscow School District’s feeding frenzy is over, a few scraps can be found for the students to nibble on. And, the Moscow School District’s educrats and the teachers’ union had better hope that Moscow voters have a very short memory the next time they come, hat in hand, pleading for money for education.
It is not news that the student occupies the lowest position in the public school food chain. Long before a dime ever reaches a classroom, it must pass through a great many hands, each of which deducts a handling fee.
There is a huge gap in the way that parents and educators view priorities for public school expenditures. For that matter, there is a huge gap between what educators publicly proclaim as their highest priority and what their own deeds reveal about what is actually their highest priority.
The public education system is viewed by most parents as a program meant to nurture and serve the needs of growing minds - reading, writing, arithmetic and condoms. Oops, maybe it’s not actually the parents who want that last one. On the other hand, teachers and educrats tend to approach public education as primarily an income source for adults. Fully 85% of the Moscow School District’s budget went to pay salaries last year.
Last November, the Moscow School District placed a $1.9 million dollar levy before the voter. Moscow residents resoundingly defeated the levy, by a margin of roughly 3-1. Among other things, questions were raised about why Moscow needed ever more money to educate ever fewer students. Immediately after the election came the predictable cries that devastating budget cuts would harm the children. Dozens of teachers would be laid off, class sizes would swell, an elementary school would have to be closed. Without more money, the district might have to auction off the souls of first graders on eBay to pay for books. Chagrined, the past spring, Moscow’s voters relented and passed a less extravagant $1.1 million levy. Since then, the teachers’ union and the educrats have opened the silverware drawer to get out their finest cutlery and started feeding.
Naturally, administrators made sure that the choicest, prime cuts of meat would land on their plates. The Moscow School Board awarded its administrators two year contracts that will insulate them from job cuts should state funding, which is tied to enrollment, continues its slide.
This matters because Moscow’s state funding has been declining for years, along with enrollment. A staggeringly high percentage of Moscow’s school aged children are either home schooled or are enrolled in one of the fine private schools in the area. For example, from last year to this, public school enrollments dropped by 66 pupils. Nevertheless, as in previous years, the school district has tried to keep its payrolls at levels that once served far more students.
Now that administrators have filled their bellies, the teachers are demanding that they get a little fatter as well. Whereas just a few months ago, we were told that, even with the smaller levy, Moscow was facing an educational famine, today teachers are demanding an across the board raise. They’ve already convinced the school district to assist with health insurance premiums. Whatever happened to this poverty that the district was facing? And what became of all that heartfelt concern for the welfare of the pupils that was so evident between November and April?
I have always wondered why it is that, when there is less money to spend on kids because taxpayers vote to hang onto more of their hard earned money, that’s greed and selfishness on their part. But, when there is less money to spend on kids because teachers and educrats take more of the taxpayers’ money for themselves, why, what better use could be made of that money?
When the Moscow School District placed its levy before the voters last April, voters were told that the $1.1 million to be raised was needed to sustain a bare bones budget. But in truth, no matter how much money a school district is given, once the educrats and the teachers unions have taken their turns at the banquet table, bare bones is all that will ever reach the pupils.