In this episode, hosts Carole Dorn-Bell and Joel Gagne talk about uncertainty around school funding and the huge impact it can have on schools. A lot of school levies are on the ballot in the fall, and if these levies don’t pass, it can have a huge impact on the school and the community, and it can be difficult for a school to operate within this cloud of uncertainty.
“Number one, talk about it with your community,” Dorn-Bell says about the uncertainty that can surround school funding. “Because if you don’t talk about it, it must not be happening. And then if something really bad happens, like funding is just ripped out from under you, your community is going to say ‘What the heck?’ and ‘Where were you?’ and ‘Why weren’t you telling us that this was going to happen?'”
Dorn-Bell recommends that you talk about the uncertainty surrounding school funding with your community, and to do so in real but not alarmist terms.
“I feel that transparency has got to be the watch word here if you’re a principal or a superintendent or a PTO president,” Gagne says. “It’s kind of like what you see on trains and buses and in airports: If you see something, say something.”
It’s important to show that you’re on top of the funding uncertainty for your school, and you don’t want someone else to beat you to communicating the uncertainty. Be as proactive as possible in your communications.
Dorn-Bell says an important call to action in these situations is very important. You can recommend that your community email, call or fax legislators or suggest another actionable item that they can do to make a difference in the future of your school’s funding.
You also need to be clear in how important the funding in question is for your school and what will happen if the funding isn’t approved. Be clear in how much these funding cuts will negatively affect the classroom.
“A school system has got to always be talking about the financial health of the school system, because it drives everything,” Dorn-Bell says. “That fiscal conversation has to be ongoing. If your finances aren’t stable and healthy, it affects your operations, it affects your educational product, it affects everything.”