Our most recent InstaPoll asked: In light of the massive cuts in state aid for Volusia County Schools, should Superintendent Margaret Smith and the School Board members take pay cuts? Eighty-five percent of the 252 respondents voted yes.
While the poll is in no way scientific or accurate, I think this is a good idea.
It is only good leadership for the people at the top to suffer along with everyone else in the organization when things are tough.
This is especially fitting in light of the fact that the leadership failed to see the financial problems coming and were not proactive in mitigating those problems. Educators love that word "proactive."
In fact they even went out and advertised for and hired new teachers while the financial problems were bearing down on them.
No doubt these new arrivals will be among the first cut as part of a $40 million shortfall in funding for the new fiscal year.
And with some teacher 500 cuts announced Tuesday, along with the earlier announcement that seven schools would close, including two in Southeast Volusia -- Oak-Burns Elementary and Samsula, here's plenty of anger all the way around.
Then you look at the nature of the cuts. Why are they cutting teachers -- at least 100 full-time positions plus the rest through attrition -- when the system is overloaded with so many non- teachers?
The Volusia County school system has proportionately 2 to 3 times as many non-teachers on its payroll as a typical private school.
Somehow I thought the purpose of a school system was to put teachers in front of students. It looks like it is equally important to have non-teachers roaming the schools and home offices.
Finally, earlier this month, there was a meeting at the School Board since the School Board evidently couldn’t come to Oak Hill to discuss the closing of the Oak Hill school .
Oak Hill Commissioner Michael Thompson said “Those kids are going to be molested. It’s not, if it’s gonna happen. It’s when.”
School Board Chairwoman Judy Conte got onto Thompson for being driven by fear. She said, ”Scaring them -- I just don’t think is to anybody’s advantage. I want to ask you to use your leadership to help the students through the transition.”
I think this interchange might explain why ordinary citizens are so hesitant to come near the school board or any function held by the school establishment.
The educators claim that parents don’t care about their kids school. I think many are intimidated by the school representatives and don’t come back.
Education has suffered as the control of the schools has been moved further and further away from the community and of course the parents.
This is the way the education community likes it.
The closing of the smaller schools is a symptom of the deterioration of the whole public school system. The smaller schools like Burns-Oak in Oak Hill generally do a better job teaching the kids than the mega schools. These closings are a symptom of bad management and a lack of interest in the students.
I would say that a pay cut is the least those at the top should endure for the mess we're in now.