Monday, August 31

School Board Candidates: Think Inside the Box

School Board Directors are decision-makers; that is their chief role. The single most important limiter to decision-making is the budget. As people are deliberating whom to support for the school board election in their area, they should think about this: what does the budget look like and what is a reasonable way to accomplish the tasks that are needed to deal with a growing/declining school district? If push comes to shove, what would they cut and what would they keep? If the school budget is in deficit, how will they balance their budgets?

Clearly, as parents and taxpayers, we will not always agree with their reasoning, but that's also why this is an elected office. A candidate should be able to articulate what motivates their decisions.

With respect to the Iowa City Community School District Board election, we have the double edged sword: a school board operating under a significant deficit and a district that continues to grow. Any candidate who tells you that the district can be grown when the budget is already in the red is misleading you. Growth in this case can only come at the expense of instruction, curriculum, or facilities. All of which affect the students who attend area schools. Ask the candidates what they are willing to sacrifice for growth?

Finally, ask them if they will go to Des Moines and fight for the reallocation of the state funding formula so that schools can sustain themselves. The truth is that too many dollars that should be used for education are misspent, both locally and at the state level. Between the layers of bureaucracy and consultants, programs that have poor outcomes, and a Federal mandate that still has not been funded are leading to ineffective schools.

If a school board candidate tells you we need to think outside the box to solve funding problems, it's only because they are helping to nail the lid on it by not dealing with the hard realities that are present in the dollars with which they have to work.


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