The new year brings about the worst job (in my opinion) of a Board of Education: setting the budget for the next school year. I guess there was a time when talking about school district budgets wasn’t depressing-back in the heyday of climbing enrollments.
There is a lot of messages floating around about education funding going on these days: some factual, some political, most a bit of both. However, one thing is pretty cut and dry: declining enrollment. We get the vast majority of our funding on a per-pupil basis, so fewer students means less money.
And we are likely to have fewer students next year.
I’m feeling optimistic, though. I actually feel like we could be on the cusp of some exciting changes, a renewed focus on education as a priority in our society.
Probably not in time for next year’s budget, but there are reasons to hope (always!) Firstly, over the next couple of years our kindergarten enrollments should start to climb upwards once again, after years and years of dropping numbers. That doesn’t actually mean our overall numbers will go up, though. I don’t want to be Debbie Downer here, but there will still be more kids leaving the school system (graduating) then there will be entering. Still, I can see the light…
My other reason for hope is that things are being shaken up politically. Unfortunately, there’s nothing like leadership races and looming elections to get some promises thrown around. Of course I’m speaking about provincial shenanigans here, but don’t forget the Trustee elections are also approaching (Nov. 2011). Time to start asking your trustees where they stand–also time to start thinking about a run for the title!
And let’s remember: our public schools are awesome places to be! I know people and resources are being stretched to extremes, but, once the bell rings you wouldn’t know it. Our children are having an exceptional learning experience in our schools, which is a testament to the committed “front line” people in education.
So, let’s try and focus on positives and work together through these difficult times.