Count on people having opinions about their schools systems. When it comes to money, the opinion usually sounds like this: "Prove to us you are using what you get efficiently before asking for more." When it comes to changing anything, anything at all, it sounds like this: "You can't stop doing..." or "This is not the same as when I went there, don't change the..."
This sets out a tough challenge for our administrators -- do it more cost-effectively BUT don't change anything!
Lately, we've seen several area districts proposing new ways of doing business to maximize their budgets and trying new educational approaches. It seems each meets resistance in the community.
Most recently, Sandusky Schools made the hard decision to close two of its historic buildings and sell them. The motive was to lower operational costs. They were successful in selling Monroe Elementary School at auction and are still attempting to sell Barker Alternative. Monroe went to a man who wants to turn it into a community center; there was an idea on the table for Barker, but no bidders last week. Monroe, in particular, was one of the district's historic and much-loved former "ward" school buildings whose closing occasioned much anguish.
In Bellevue, the school district proposed reorganizing its school district's buildings by grade level; after much objection, the school board came back with another plan. The concept is still too new to predict the public outcry, but we expect there will be.
In Port Clinton, a similar plan is farther along, with much effort made to show the public why this should work better than sorting students by geography.
In Margaretta Schools, they're talking about "academies" that find new roles for the district's elementary schools while opening doors to students from other districts -- bringing in state money to the district in the process.
The point? Local schools are doing some pretty drastic things to get the biggest bang from the taxpayers' buck -- and running into some serious unpopularity in so doing.
It strikes us these are sincere efforts to make real changes in the way each district spends money. It is time for their communities to stand behind them as they figure out the future, and time for the communities to accept that it won't be like the past.