106 Plays Right Into Their Hands
When you’re budgeting for a school department, there are a lot of moving pieces. Of course you wish you had money to fund everything really well, but that’s not the case. Choices need to be made and sometimes cuts are necessary. But where those cuts should come from is often the topic for debate. We’ve seen multiple times recently when school departments are using the Washington Monument Syndrome:
The most visible and most appreciated service that is provided by that entity is the first to be put on the chopping block.
In our local examples, the school department cuts school sports. We saw that a few months back when West Warwick cut high school sports which led to hundreds of people showing up to a Town Council meeting and some even getting so agitated, they had to be removed by the police. Of course after all the gnashing of teeth, the money was found and sports were replaced.
Now there’s a group in East Providence calling themselves Project 106 that seeks to fund middle school sports in the town. First of all, I’ve lived in a handful of states and I’ve never heard of middle school sports before. Usually kids participate in CYO basketball, Little League or Pop Warner Football and the like. Rhode Island seems to have this big devotion to middle school sports. Additionally, quite often these groups won’t be so quick to offer up that they’re looking to save middle school sports, instead leaving it up to the listener to sometimes assume it’s high school sports that are under attack.
Nevertheless, it must be pretty nice to get the heat taken off you as a school board member. You can negotiate these escalating contracts and pay more to areas that don’t directly affect the students and cut things that do, like sports. No big deal because some nice group, like Project 106 will step right in and raise money for the sports. The same sports that were already being paid for through taxes!
It’s great that these parents want to find a way to fund after-school sports, but why are they letting the administrators off the hook so easily? Why was the money available last year but not this year? Keep their feet to the fire, let them know that you’re watching and paying attention. It’d be nice if parents were as keenly aware of all school budget decisions and expenditures, but we’ll start here. Once the administrators see that they can cut sports and parents will replenish those funds, what’s next? Books? Busing? Supplies? Electricity? Heat? Why not? After all, isn’t heating the school even more important than sports? If parents will pay a little more for sports, won’t they do the same to keep the lights on?