As a school board member, I hear various reasons for not supporting a school budget. The most common reason I hear starts with, “When I was in school….” What follows might be a statement about not having a computer science teacher, an instructional coach, an assistant superintendent, a behavior specialist, or any number of positions, programs, and services. The recollection of “When I was in school….” typically ends with “and I turned out fine.” I, too, could have said these same things 10 years ago. Most schools did not have the positions, programs, and services I have mentioned, and I think I turned out fine without them.
The reality is that students and staff attending schools today have a much different experience than I had. I know this from what I learn from my own children, currently fourth and fifth graders, when I ask about school. My perspective has changed because of what I hear from current students and reports received at Board meetings.
When I was in school, my Kindergarten classroom did not have a computer. No one expected a computer for the teacher’s use, and no one expected that my 5-year-old self would use one. When I was in school, my teachers most often had the same grade level assignment for a decade or more and worked in the same school building for most of their lives. Teachers did not have instructional coaching access, and professional development was uncommon. As a fourth grader, I did not know the word “opioid.” I was a college graduate before Naloxone or “Narcan” became available to those not trained in the medical field. Now, many school districts have Narcan policies and guidelines set forth by the state. I never witnessed or heard of students cutting, turning over desks, cyberbullying, or being the victims of cyberbullying. School safety plans did not require school budget considerations; these plans were references made to making sure all students returned from a class field trip.
As a school board member, I can name various ways students and schools are different. Students in our schools have experiences and challenges I never would have fathomed. Expectations of school staff in all positions to provide services and instruction beyond traditional academic content has changed in ways I could not have forecasted. A free, appropriate public education when I was in school is not what current students require and deserve. I want my and all our community’s children and grandchildren to look back from adulthood and not recall what prevented them from doing their best. I want them to be able to say, “I turned out fine.”
Please join me by supporting Springfield’s school budget. There will be an informational meeting Thursday, April 25 at 7 p.m. at the Springfield High School. More details about the budget can be obtained by contacting the Springfield District Office at 802-885-5141. Voting will take place Tuesday, April 30, at Riverside Middle School. I welcome your comments and concerns at email@example.com.
Parent and School Board Member