Educational Editorial: Debate over school budgets

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The first quarter of each year the education community is embroiled in debate.

These intense discussions that are frequently short on patience and even shorter on tempers are not about what should be taught, how it should be taught, or who should teach it; but about money.

With the difficult economy that we are experiencing, the state and local battles will reach a level of "hand to hand" combat among many policy makers and advocates.

Perhaps we could consider some rules of engagement:

1)   Always tell the truth: when you are honest, you don't have to worry about remembering what you said yesterday. The public and those who represent them have a "zero tolerance" policy for dishonesty. One lie or "misdirection" obliterates credibility.

2)   Be transparent: people want no less to have the opportunity to know and access information than they do to literally have it. People may always choose not to be involved, but they demand and expect the opportunity.

3)   Ask questions when you don't know the answers: If staff and parents are asked to prioritize cost savings let it be because no decisions have been made…if you know what you must do, then ask for their help.

4)   Don't do battle with those with whom you are fiscally dependent: In Virginia school boards do not raise the taxes that fund schools…make your case but remember that the pain that you inflict may soon become yours.

5)    Avoid placing on the "chopping block" the most sensitive and volatile issues when their costs may be relatively small

6)   Remember that it is in difficult times that you identify and preserve what is most important.

7)   Most of all, play fairly.

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