Editorial: budget proposals need further explanation
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The Frisco ISD Priorities-Based Budget Stakeholder Committee recommended more than 50 proposals at Monday’s Board of Trustees meeting to implement in an effort to save funds in the 2017-18 budget. However, what these proposals failed to provide are itemized explanations as to how the money claimed to be saved will actually be saved.
While there are dozens of recommendations made and there is no denying the district faces a revenue shortfall, there are a few questions regarding some of these proposals and how they may be carried out.
To begin, high school sports are big in Texas, and hold high importance in the district and Frisco community, clearly communicated by the apparel contract signed with Nike and the opening of The Star. Stakeholders proposed that by increasing adult admission to sports events, and making both middle and high school students pay a fee to be able to play a sport, they would generate a total of $1,428,750.
According to a Frisco ISD tweet, “Recommendations include $100 annual fee for MS athletes, $200 for HS to cover costs of security, transportation, game officials & laundry.” But adding a price to someone’s passion doesn’t seem fair. If some students have to pay to play the sports they love, why don’t art students have to pay to paint or draw? Or how about band students? Shouldn’t they have to pay to play as well?
Another recommendation made is the consolidation of classes with low numbers. This makes sense on the face of it as having teachers instruct a small number of students doesn’t seem to be the best use. However, one of the other recommendations is the correlated reduction of campus to campus transportation.
Consolidating classes seems like it would entail moving students taking the course on one campus to another campus. But one of the proposed recommendations is to reduce partner campus busing. So if smaller classes throughout the district will be consolidated and busing between campuses will be reduced, how will students get from one campus to another? This is a hole, the district needs to fill with answers.
Yet another recommendation that needs more answers involves the $450,000 estimated to be saved by reducing custodial positions. Each day students on campus fail to clean up after themselves after lunch, leaving the small number of custodian’s rushing to pick up trash and wipe down each table in the four minutes between each lunch. Additionally, with custodians already stretched thin, some bathrooms are locked and unavailable for use before the school day is even over.
Custodians are a very important part of each campus, as they keep the building clean and sanitary when the students don’t, so why cut the number of custodians when for multiple reasons, including a lack of decent human courtesy by students, when this staff is highly needed on campuses? $450,000 is a significant amount of money, but if there are fewer custodians, who will pick up the slack?
Another recommendation that needs further clarification involves a proposed fee for parking passes at each high school campus that would generate $250,000 in revenue. Depending on how many students drive to school at each campus, this fee would likely range from $25-40 per parking pass. Going from free parking immediately to $40 is a big jump, and many families may not want to drop the money just for their student to park at school, where they are required to go by law.
It’s understood that each of these ideas is just a proposal, and full details may not have been released or finalized, but more information needs to be provided before final touches are put on the budget. Many people are unable to attend board meetings and solely rely on the information given online. However, a look at the Priorities Based Budget 2017-18 Recommendations PDF leaves many questions and no answers provided. Let’s hope many of these proposals are looked over again, with greater details and explanation provided before a vote on the budget is taken in June.