This commentary was submitted as a letter to the editor by Douglas County parent Susan D. Meek, former school district spokeswoman and school board candidate.
This letter is in response to Douglas County School Director Justin Williams’ letter to the editor published on January 18 regarding the previous evening’s school board meeting.
Director Williams does not seem to understand just how powerful information can be – it can transform a “raucous crowd concerned about the budget” into a supportive crowd who is pleased that the school board provides clear and accurate answers to questions.
Instead of sitting stoically at Board meetings during public comment and refusing to respond to simple questions, or even attacking members of the public who have every right to ask questions about the finances and actions of the public school board, it would be much more powerful and respectful to simply address those questions and concerns.
I would like to reiterate one simple question asked and not answered at the last school board meeting:
- Why did the district fund balance (the money left after all expenses are paid – what some refer to as the “rainy-day fund”) grow by $26 million in 2010 and an additional $20 million in 2011 while the district cut close to $50 million?
During this time period, the District cut each school’s budget resulting in higher class sizes, increased fees for families (including the need to pay for bus service), and less options for families within our existing schools.
When the District holds more than what is fiscally prudent, it puts the schools in a very difficult situation by restricting available funds to our classrooms. Strong schools require strong teachers in the classroom and the best utilization of resources to support those students, teachers, and schools.
Parents are concerned. Parents want the strongest schools possible for their children. Parents want answers. And if the Board would provide those answers instead of attacking those who ask questions, our school district would begin to move in a more positive direction.
Susan D. Meek
Parent from Highlands Ranch