South Montgomery schools have tough task
Tuesday, November 12, 2013 9:00 PM
I admire the South Montgomery school board's efforts to do what's right for kids.
Frank has reported on the news, events and people of west-central Indiana for years. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
That phrase, by the way, comes from Bob Tandy. the school corporation's first superintendent. It was echoed at Monday night's school board meeting by Harlan Vaught, a property owner who farms in the corporation's school district. Vaught also said he would be willing to pay much more in property tax to support schools.
When another man asked how many other farmers would say that, Vaught replied, "Not many."
But Bob Tandy dedicated his life to "doing what's best for kids" and it was nice to hear Mr. Vaught say the same thing.
I am convinced the school board feels that way, too.
They have their job cut out for them. In two years they must get the school corporation's finances in the black or face draconian cuts by the state. Everyone present seemed to think it would be better to keep local control of the schools rather than turn even more control over to the state. The state already controls much of the budget and sets standards for everything else.
The board's commitment to "kids" was reflected in the business conducted Monday night: The board floated a $2 million bond to bring a gas pipeline to the high school which will pay for itself many times over in the coming decades; the board decided to grant the high school band $7,500 to help the kids be competitive in the State Fair band competition next summer; and the board decided to ask the administration to keep the public informed, invite public input and at the same time prepare a recommendation to close one or two buildings (if that breakthrough idea to fund the schools doesn't surface.)
As a reporter and writer for the past 40 years I have become skeptical of many things. I like to tell young reporters that while an optimist says the glass is half full and the pessimist says the glass is half empty our job is to ask, what's in that glass?
I am not skeptical about the South Montgomery school board.
The changes that will be made in the next two years and beyond will be painful. No one likes to think about a rural school being closed. Ask people around Alamo what they think about their school being closed more than 30 years ago. They will say that is what killed the town. I'm sure that is not entirely true but a school is important to communities such as Walnut Township, Ladoga, New Market and Waveland.
If the financial problem is as widespread as members of the board indicated Monday night, this is only one of many school board decisions across the state that will be painful.
My hats are off to you trustees in the South school district. Thank you for doing the job so many others choose not to do.