by Sid Kopperl
Yesterday I heard that the School Board of Broward County has to make more severe cuts, as they are out of money. They are firing teachers, cutting or eliminating Art, Music, P.E., Speech, Library, etc. They are going to layoff 800/1,000 more people. Maybe they could layoff a few thousand more if we eliminate Math or English! I’m so angry; I don’t know where to start. They are doing this because tax revenues are down. Tax revenues are down because house values have dropped and because more people are now not paying their taxes.
For a number of years before this recent decline, values and revenues rose. Where was the planning? Someone thought it was a good idea to spend every penny we got and not anticipate a downturn. That kind of thinking does not work for an individual, a business, and it certainly doesn’t work for a school board.
Our school population is not growing; certainly not at the rate it was several years ago. During that timeframe, new schools were planned and opened. Just in this area, two new high schools were opened. If there is no need to open new schools, where are all the funds that were going to new school construction? So what are the consequences of all these cuts?
There’s an apparent answer: less education.
I’ve lived in Florida for over 30 years. Previously, we were at or near the bottom of the state’s list for quality of education. We’ve gotten a lot better, with our graduates now either attending quality colleges within Florida or gaining admittance to first- tier colleges and universities throughout the country. Does anyone think that by providing less education to our students that they will have the same ability to compete with students from around the country? We cannot allow our education to become inferior.
Education is not an expense, it’s an investment in the future. If you don’t invest in the future, you are doomed to live in the past. So, FIND THE MONEY. Let’s find a few dollars by cutting in the salary in half for every member of the school board administrative staffs, starting with the commissioner. Next, let’s fire the school board itself who thought it was a good idea to spend all the past revenue without planning for the future. These are small steps but they are in the right direction and sends the proper message.
Lastly, fund the shortfall. Borrow it and pay it off from the sale of bonds, sell off the school buildings to private taxpaying individuals and lease them back, hold a special lottery, but do something creative and don’t let our education slip backwards.
I am not a teacher nor do I have children presently attending the public school system. I am just a concern citizen that knows the value of education and knows what happen when you don’t fund it.