Opinion
Education Letter to the Editor

Boards’ First Duty Is Not Slashing School Budgets

October 03, 2008 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

In his Commentary “Common-Sense Ways to Improve Education Without a Tax Increase” (Sept. 17, 2008), newly elected school board member Kenneth E. Hartman proceeds from the premise that because “states and the federal government are broke,” school boards should simply learn to make do with the funds they now receive. But his six suggestions for bringing about change without spending more money are, for the most part, unlikely to generate significant savings. And none promises to improve student achievement.

Moreover, his recommendation to cap or cut teacher benefits, likely to generate the biggest savings, would not only exacerbate the present teacher shortage, but also would penalize the most valued, yet most underpaid, workers in our society.

For 13 years, I have served on the Fairfax County, Va., school board, which is responsible for overseeing the education of 170,000 children. Our district ranks fifth in the Washington metro area in per-pupil spending, and we spend $280 million per year (12 percent of our budget) to pay for the unfunded portions of state and federal mandates. Our state and federal elected officials expect us to implement programs to educate all children, and to show positive results. But they do not pay for these programs.

I reject Mr. Hartman’s suggestion that school boards like mine simply concede the appropriateness of our state’s and the federal government’s holding schools accountable, when they refuse to provide the funding that should accompany their mandates.

The Code of Virginia requires school boards to adopt annual budgets that reflect the needs of the children, and not artificial limitations on funding. Other states have similar requirements. We abdicate our responsibilities to the children and families we serve if we simply throw up our hands, as Mr. Hartman suggests, and slash our budgets to meet available funds.

Stuart D. Gibson

Reston, Va.

A version of this article appeared in the October 08, 2008 edition of Education Week as Boards’ First Duty Is Not Slashing School Budgets

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
Strategies for Incorporating SEL into Curriculum
Empower students to thrive. Learn how to integrate powerful social-emotional learning (SEL) strategies into the classroom.
Content provided by Be GLAD
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Leadership in Education: Building Collaborative Teams and Driving Innovation
Learn strategies to build strong teams, foster innovation, & drive student success.
Content provided by Follett Learning
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Principals, Lead Stronger in the New School Year
Join this free virtual event for a deep dive on the skills and motivation you need to put your best foot forward in the new year.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: June 12, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: May 29, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: May 8, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: April 17, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read