From: Gretchen Michlitsch
School District 861 has significant resources. We have students and teachers. We have support staff and administrators. We have school buildings and land. And we have a community that supports education.
How can we best use our resources to educate our students in our public schools?
Support and retain teachers.
Educate our students, and prepare them to lead healthy, productive lives that contribute to our society.
Maintain and renovate our school buildings, taking advantage of the benefits each provides.
Respect our community and its resources, making best use of the support provided by taxpayers, educators, parents, and other community members — young and old, city and rural, rich and poor.
Recently, our school district has spent a lot of time studying how to close schools and fire teachers. However, it has spent very little time studying how to keep schools open and make them thrive.
Our district leaders have considered seriously only one way to deal with a budget shortfall precipitated by administrative errors. Current proposals would have our elementary students bear the brunt of this shortfall. Administrative proposals center on firing our elementary teachers and exceeding elementary building capacities. Budget task force members have been presented a limited range of possible cuts, with the false implication that cuts to music and sports can only be avoided by elementary school closures.
The state has recently increased funds available to school districts. Our elementary population is stable. Our buildings are in good structural condition, though the elementary schools and playgrounds do need renovation.
I hope to see our school district invest as much time and energy in keeping our schools open as it has recently in efforts to close them. I would like to see our leaders invest their efforts in a thriving, affordable fleet of neighborhood and community schools that make the best use of all of our community resources and provide the best educational settings for our children.