Kat Wilson: School budget battles

06/17/2014 12:00 AM

06/16/2014 4:50 PM

Not long ago I had such hope for my children’s education here in Chapel Hill. After all, this is where you can’t go wrong with the school you choose.

This feeling was short lived. Soon the reality set in. It started with something simple like paper, then pencils, then copy paper, then more pencils! What’s happening? These items are necessities used each day. Why are the teachers requesting these with such frequency?

The 2013-2014 school year started off even more desperate. From the beginning of the year there was no paper. Meaning no money left in the paper budget. Teachers were cutting papers into small squares to conserve. When I told people this they laughed. When I said “No, seriously!” they were speechless.

How could this be? Well, funding for our schools has decreased to the point that teachers rely on their room moms to request paper and other supplies from parents. This might sound small and insignificant but it truly signifies just how dire it has become when it comes to the day-to-day task of educating our children. These simple things are not something teachers should be thinking about.

So how has it gotten to this point? Over the years when there was a shortfall we had a fund to fill the gap. As you can imagine, over the years it has dwindled and now is gone. No more is to be had.

So now what we really have is in front of us, and it is abysmal: nothing. The lack of school funding in this state is alarming. The reserve was a Band-aid that could only stop the bleeding for so long.

The excuses go like this: The superintendent blames the Board of Education (BOE) for making him choose between limited items to cut. The BOE blames the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) for being unwilling to give what is needed. The BOCC blames the state for cuts ... no wait ... blames the BOE for not being specific about where the money would go.

Your head spinning? Well, ALL of them shoulder this responsibility together and should strive to solve this emergency in our public school system.

During a recent BOCC meeting many things were said that made it clear that there is a long standing animosity between them and the BOE. Stubborn and outrageous words from long standing members. One phrase was “how the game is played.” Our children’s educational future is not a game. These grown-up individuals need to put aside their hang-ups because they quite frankly don’t matter! What matters is the condition of our schools, pay of our teachers, and services provided for our students. If none of these individuals can rise above their differences, they should step aside.

I heard it spoken before our request to ask for the full funding needed that it would not bode well politically. Well, speaking to the members of both boards, do you want to be known as the one who fought when it was most difficult and really needed to be done (one I will willingly vote for, heck even campaign for!) or the one who stood aside and refused to help?

My face represents a parent speaking up! Will you please join me?

Kat Wilson lives in Chapel Hill.

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