Times are tough, people are losing their homes, people with fixed incomes have had to hunker down, and meanwhile the school boards are going their merry way telling about all of the dire things that are going to happen if we don't pony up more money for the bloated school systems. The airlines and the big three auto makers along with many smaller companies have had to take the bull by the horns and make substantial cuts in order to stay in business. Some have had to reorganize under bankruptcy laws. The main cost is labor and many workers have had to take pay or benefit cuts and nonessential positions have had to be eliminated to keep the companies going.
What is needed is a business plan. The school boards should decide how much they can pay for teachers salaries and benefits. The next step, if they want to keep all the programs, is to negotiate pay and benefit cuts with the teachers' union. If the teachers want to go on strike, so be it. Discard the union and hire teachers at what we can afford to pay. Believe me, there are many good teachers waiting to take the jobs. Another area to cut is the administrative salaries and expenses. Superintendents, principals, and everyone down the line should be scrutinized and have positions eliminated or take pay cuts to balance the budget.
Simply put, things have gotten out of hand and need to straighten out! Not easy, not fun, but it is essential. More taxes is not the answer.
Consider the private sector model
A recent Open Forum contributor suggested that all school employees should work in the private sector to see what it is like to do so. He stated that when revenues are down for a business they tend to cut their costs. The author seemed to be indicating that he felt our schools haven't followed this basic principal.
The author should note that cooks, custodians, secretaries, and educational assistants have been cut in recent years. This has placed more of a workload on those who remain and I can personally attest that those who remain are in constant action. Every categorical budget in the district has been decreased over the last five years. These actions, along with others, have resulted in $5 million dollars in budget cuts.
The teachers have watched as 42 positions have either been cut or left vacant by the retirement of colleagues. This has resulted in increased class sizes and workloads for all teachers in the system. At the same time, the teachers have tried to help further by settling contracts with salary increases that are below, or expected to be below, state average for the past four years.
The employees of the Brainerd school system have met all of the aforementioned challenges while impacting the most important people in the school district, the kids, least. The author failed to note that a business facing lower revenues can choose to lower product quality or customer service to cut costs, and the Brainerd Public Schools have not done so. This is evidenced by the many accolades and awards our students and schools earn each year. I suggest you contact the district office and ask to come in and visit our schools to witness the fine job being done by students and staff even in these tough times.
Allow guns on campus
Recently, I sent a letter to newspapers with regard to stopping "wackos" on school campuses from killing fellow students. The best way, in my opinion, is by using our Second Amendment rights.
It seems that the Nevada Board of Regents had the same thought. The board endorsed a plan to allow some faculty and staff to carry concealed firearms on all college campuses in Nevada. This decision clearly recognizes the value of armed defense to protect students. The interested faculty and staff will undergo background checks and 21 weeks of police training. (1st Freedom" magazine September 07).
As a former 21-year resident of Nevada, I salute the board of regents for an intelligent decision. Any chance I could convince our Sen. Amy Klobuchar that this is a good idea?
'Songs From the Tall Grass' praised
Your region is in for a treat! Brainerd will host the musical theatre production of "Songs From the Tall Grass" on Thursday and Friday nights, Sept. 20 and 21 at the John Chalberg Theatre.
This show had its Minnesota debut in Fergus Falls four years ago. I saw it four times that year and the best review I could offer your readers is that by the last weekend of the show, you were lucky if you had tickets! In fact, after seeing the show early in its run, one couple traveled three hours back with their entire family to see it again. This wasn't uncommon and the success of that first year prompted a repeat run the next summer. It's exciting to think that other communities can have this experience!
The story of the show revolves around life and the challenges of making a living on the farm and I would encourage any of your readers who have some connection with farming to experience "Songs From the Tall Grass." For me, the show brought back memories of my own youth on an Iowa farm and at times it seemed to be my own father on stage sharing the joys and hardships of his chosen lifestyle.
Be ready to laugh, tap your foot, be surprised and listen to storytelling at its best. This production promises to be a night the whole family - grandparents, parents and kids - can share together, something that is sometimes missing in today's busy world. It's truly an amazing history lesson in a Broadway musical format.
For more information on this educational and entertaining musical, go to www.songsfromthetallgrass.com.
And enjoy the show.
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