How much is enough?

| 30 Sep 2011 | 09:42

    I would like to thank Cindi Howson for writing such a clear and reasoned letter to the editor in the May 12 edition. She really hits the nail on the head. The rhetoric that flies when budgets fail to pass, especially school budgets, does nothing to move the debate forward. At the same time, it’s unfortunate to see misguided arguments from the Cinas and Holly Rudel. Ms. Rudel states in her letter that high school class size ranges from 25 to 33 students. She’s right in saying this is a very high student-to-teacher ratio. However, consider that the budget right now is over $13,000 per student (and that assumes equal distribution of the budget across all grades — the actual high school cost is much higher). That puts the smallest classroom at $325,000! I find myself asking, “How much is enough?” How much more are the taxpayers supposed to be willing to pour into the public education system? We are continually asked to give more because more money would solve all of the problems, but no matter how much more we give, it doesn’t solve anything. In the private sector, companies make profits and use that money to give raises to current employees and hire new, grow their businesses, and pay dividends to shareholders. In the public sector, there are no profits. The only way public (government) entities can get money is by taxation. This is especially problematic when the taxpayers are having economic difficulties, but are still being asked to give more to their government. There are a lot of problems with the way the public school system operates. There’s too much waste in the number and pay of administrators and non-teaching staff. We spend insane amounts of money on new facilities when we can barely support the current. The teachers have a union with completely unrealistic expectations. We can’t fire bad teachers, we can’t reward good teachers, we are forced to give raises regardless of the economy, the pension and benefit packages cannot be sustained without seriously and unfairly burdening the taxpayers — these are unsustainable and unrealistic requirements. Raises come to private sector workers who work hard and who work for companies that succeed in the marketplace. There is no such requirement, or possibility, in public education. Regarding the buses, there is a simple answer. There should be a limited number of bus pickups around town. Various business parking lots and public parks can be used. Parents are responsible for getting their children to the bus stop. The buses pick up the students from there. It would mean shorter, faster bus trips to and from school, less traffic, less money spent on fuel for the buses and it’s better for the environment to not stop and go all over town. It’s give and take — the parents have some of the responsibility for getting the kids to school, and the township has the rest. The people of Sparta have spoken — twice. The town council would do well to take heed. We don’t want our taxes going up, and more importantly, we want the budget to go down, not just stay the same. Cut spending, cut the waste, cut the union, start doing things in ways that are sustainable and reasonable, and then we will start trusting our government officials again. Adam Levin Sparta