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Other ways to cut
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Dear Editor: I do not envy Dr. Whatley or the school board the difficult decisions they will have to make to balance a school budget that has been drastically cut by our economic crisis. However, the wisdom of the choices they are making is highly suspect.

First and foremost, the hardest hit will be elementary education, which is the bedrock of our children's learning. Most of the staffing cuts will be aimed at the elementary schools, and for that, class sizes will increase and teacher paraprofessionals will be eliminated. The basis of our children's learning will be greatly compromised. What I did not see on the list of proposed cuts were significant administrative cuts. Those should be the first to go. Teachers are more important.They are the ones actually providing the education.

As for the middle school sports, it disturbs me greatly that Dr. Whatley believes it acceptable to take from all the middle school kids a program that motivates and trains children. The lasting effects will be lower grades for students who need the eligibility requirements to motivate them, greater obesity levels, and a loss of scholarship opportunity for kids who haven't had the ability to hone their skills before reaching high school. What is most disturbing is that this program could be saved with the dismissal of one vice-principal.

Additionally, returning to a traditional school year and traditional school hours could save greatly on energy costs. The additional costs for air conditioning in August are wasteful, and the cost of additional heat and electricity during the winter months to start school prior to 8 a.m. could be averted.

Where do we cut $10 million dollars? Administration, energy costs, and of course, some staffing will have to be eliminated - but those staffing cuts need to be better balanced so that our elementary program does not suffer so disproportionately. How about across-the-board pay cuts that will save jobs? Many businesses have had to take similar measures.

I've heard some complaints about the theme schools. I do not believe these should be cut. They alleviate overcrowding at other schools, they rely heavily on parent volunteers, and they cost significantly less in bussing costs because most parents drive their children to school. If the students weren't attending there, they would be elsewhere in the system requiring additional resources from that school. Additionally, they provide an educational option for families willing to meet required volunteer hours, and higher disciplinary and academic standards. In actuality, they are what every school in Newton County should strive to be. We can only hope they grow larger over time as transportation issues are resolved.

Complaining about the new superintendant's salary does nothing. The contract is signed. However, the school board should remember they are elected officials. And if they don't listen to the community now, they'll have no choice come time for re-election.