Some initial thoughts on the Monroe County Community School Corp. budget committee recommendations on how to use $7.5 million a year from the recent property-tax referendum.
1 — This is an opportunity for the school board to get the process right. That means having all its discussions in public, however difficult and messy they may be.
The board shouldn’t hash this out behind closed doors on the rationale that it involves collective bargaining strategy. It is doing the right thing by getting input from parents, teachers and the public. It should listen to what people have to say, then do what’s best for students and the community and clearly explain the rationale.
2 – The budget committee report says improving student performance is its No. 1 priority. While acknowledging the central role of teachers, it calls for spending money in a way that will “provide the most meaningful benefit for our students and … reflect an honest assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of our school corporation.”
“If enhancing student performance isn’t our primary goal, then I think we’ve got a problem in this school corporation,” said MCCSC Comptroller and committee member Tim Thrasher. It’s hard to argue with that.
3 – The committee gets style points its “three Rs” approach: restore positions and programs that were cut, replenish the district’s operating balance, and reform instruction.
Best of all is using reform to describe investing in programs and personnel aimed at making sure young children learn to read and older students don’t fall through the cracks – reclaiming a term that has come to refer to charter schools, vouchers, teacher merit pay and union-busting.