Over the holidays, I got to see a former teaching buddy that I don't get to see too often anymore. He teaches in Beijing now, so as you might imagine, getting together for lunch is usually impossible. Anyway, he was visiting in the area and joined a friend and I for a meal. When he asked about how things were going with the district, my friend rolled his eyes and I sighed---and we said the same thing: there is rarely any mention anymore about what is good for kids---any and all discussion is around Budget. Yes, the dreaded B-word. And it's getting to be a sore (and very boring) subject.
By law, schools have to have balanced budgets. We can't be like the feds and run up a deficit and exist on credit. Districts must live within their means. In the case of my district (and others in the area), declining enrollment and property tax fatigue mean smaller coin amounts in the coffers. We can't ignore budget issues. We have to make hard choices and stakeholders in all programs and walks of school-life have to be involved.
But does The Budget have to be the focus of every conversation and meeting that takes place? Isn't it time that we got back to talking about kids?