2006-02-09 / Letters to the Editor

Extreme budget cuts

Each Thursday, I find myself hurrying home to read any and all articles regarding the state of opinions surrounding our schools’ budget. As the mother of a two-year-old and a three-year-old, who will attend school shortly, I find that my heart is often in my throat each time I read many of the articles. There seems to be some very extreme opinions on what cuts should be made to our education system. I do understand that with a reduction in the school’s population it would seem logical to cut staff and even consider closing a building. However, education has changed as has the culture of all schools. I believe that our schools are now responsible for the education of very diversified learners as well as many federal mandates, such as No Child Left Behind, which require greater financial resources. I think this belief can be supported by the fact that many of the school districts across the nation are having the same budget issues.

I feel compelled to write publicly because I find some of the budget cutting solutions offered extreme and alarming. I wonder will my children be in a class of 25 or more? (Class size counts!) Will my children attend elementary school in Jamestown, junior high in Narragansett, and finally high school in North Kingstown? How much of my children’s day will be spent on a bus? I do think that it can be very difficult for those who are responsible for our town financial health to accept the percentage of our town’s budget our schools require. I believe that when you simply look at the numbers of teachers, specialist, and administrators on paper it does appear that there are very logical and simple cuts that can be made. However, these cuts will be felt most painfully by our children who are our future, and the educators, administrators, and the environment in which they learn are the keys to their future.

To this end, I would respectfully ask that anyone who will be offering any opinions and more importantly making any decisions about the cuts to faculty, the reconfiguring of our schools, or the redistricting of our children, please, please spend a day in our schools. Do not do a walk through the schools or spend and hour, spend the whole day and speak with the teachers and the students to fully understand what is happening in the Jamestown schools. As a teacher, I have attended three different conferences in the past four years where I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the expert presenters were Jamestown teachers. In fact, two weeks ago I attended a day of professional development where the presenter, not affiliated with Jamestown, noted the high standard of teaching excellence in Jamestown.

Numbers on paper do not tell a complete story. Logical choices are not always the best choices. Most often what is cut from a schools budget is never brought back.

Kim Ferguson,

Jamestown resident, North Kingstown Elementary

School Teacher

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