Thursday, May 22, 2008

School Budget

Our School budget vote went down in defeat two days ago.  I am disappointed because it was one of the smaller budget increases in our area as well as in recent years.  I know people are sick and tired of paying property taxes, but few seem to realize that school is an investment in the community's ongoing health.

In our district, we automatically go to a contingency budget if the proposed budget fails.  I took a look at it.  The sorts of things that are cut are field trips (which I think are particularly good for kids), hoped-for additional staff like a librarian, certian intramural sports, that sort of thing.  It's a long list because all the cuts are rather small -- $30,000 here, $5,000 there.  They needed to cut more than half a million.

Well, I have a sure-fire idea to get the budget passed next year -- and to make contingency budget planning much easier.  Rather than cut out many educationally enriching (but not state mandated) initiatives why not get rid of most of that money in one big chunk -- interscholastic sports?  If my numbers are right, our district spends about half a million -- that's $500,000 -- on interscholastic sports.  Perfect fit.

The reason it would guarantee passage is because nobody wants to lose their sports.  Get rid of music!  Get rid of art!  Get rid of special ed and the library and field trips but NOT our sports!  Some kid out there might get a scholarship to a school some day!

I'm telling you, if you make a contingency budget without interscholastic sports, people will pass any budget you give them the first time.  Because that's where people's hearts are.  After all, these sports get 10% of the student body up and moving, and they instill "School Spirit" (whatever that is), and we almost went to the state finals last year! 

But when you think about it, why are those sports in the budget in the first place?  What have they got to do with education?  If you want to talk scholarships, why not improve the educational input of the school so that, say, five percent more of the total student body gets academic scholarships rather than one percent of those ten percent of students who play sports?

I bet you could do a longitudinal study showing that schools without interscholastic sports do better academically than similar schools with such programs. Why?  Because the sports are a distraction from the main purpose of the schools.  Not only that, but they actually discourage phyisical health for the larger portion of the school.  And on a larger, more spiritual level, they teach our children to work against each other than with each other (despite talk of teamwork).

Over the next three days, I'm going to make my arguments about why interscholastic sports are more harmful than helpful.  In the meantime, budget planners -- think about cutting them from your contingency budget.  I guarantee you'll get whatever you want in the vote.