By Jon A. Brake
We can all thank God that we have a new School Board. Thatís not right, we can not use the word God with anything to do with the school system.
We can all thank the Almighty Dollar that we have a new School Board. Actually the seven-member board has five new members and they have been doing an outstanding job.
To understand the problem, we first must understand the past. It has been a past where the School Administration and the old Board helped create the problem and then did nothing.
The School Districts problems started in 1994 when voters were told that the 6,900 students enrollment would be going up to 7,900. At the time the Board had two committee reports: one showed the increase to 7,900 and the other showed the numbers staying at 6,900 or dropping. Voters were never told about the second report. Board members also stated repeatedly that it did not matter what happed to Fort Riley, "We need the three new buildings." The voters responded in good faith and three new buildings were built at a cost of $25 million.
For the past eight years the District enrollment has dropped. Enrollment has gone from 6,910 in 1993-94 to 5,478 this year. At the same time the old Board continued to hire new teachers and continued to push the budget higher and higher.
Last year the old Board formed 20 committees to cut the budget. Many committee members found that not all items were open to cuts. They also wasted their time. The Board did not cut the budget they raised it.
The five new board members must close two or three buildings. We have classrooms for 7,900 students but we have only 5,478 enrolled. Look at the chart to the right, enrollment will continue to decline. Something needs to be done. The old Board could not, or would not make the decisions.
Thank God we have a new School Board.