Despite the current optimism with the presidential inauguration Tuesday, it seems impossible to turn left or right without reading, hearing or watching something about these tough economic times and the implications that holds for schools.
As Governor Patterson said, we are facing the gravest economic challenge of our lifetime. All of this weighs on my mind as a new superintendent who is a steward of our financial future; as a new superintendent who has spent an administrative career fighting for money for educational programs first and foremost; as a teacher; as a parent; as a taxpayer and as a wage earner.
On this twenty-ninth day of my superintendency, I’m meeting with administrators and teachers to follow up on my conversations with our Board of Education members about a three to five year plan for conservative fiscal management. We’re considering and planning cuts that will continue to hold our district in a healthy financial position. We’re anticipating these tough times ahead and trying to balance a solid education for our students with our responsibilities to our taxpayers and our community.
We’re cutting back on our Board of Education budget. It’s a small portion of our overall budget but it’s a start. By cutting back on Board association memberships to save the district money, it starts us thinking about what’s really necessary. It keeps us focused on what’s prudent in a district of our size. These economic times remind us to put students first and to exercise constraint when possible.
We’ll have more tough conversations over the coming months, and we’ll have them with honesty, openness and integrity. I won’t keep these decisions to myself until the last minute, but will instead talk about them with the affected employees first so that people can plan and prepare with as much time as possible. We’ll answer questions and take a careful, thoughtful approach while being mindful that our decisions aren’t easy or arbitrary. With the focus of a long term plan, my hope is that we can better prioritize and be prepared to make good decisions about potential cutbacks, if and when necessary.
Randolph is in a solid position financially due to years of good management by our business official, our previous superintendents and our BOE members. I intend to do what’s best to keep us there. I’m more sure than ever that doing what’s right doesn’t mean doing what’s easy.