Make no mistake, the Marion County School Board has some tough decisions to make this year (and probably next year, too). They have no choice but to cut, furlough, and substitute their way to a balanced budget. Why is this? The immediate reasons are (1) "new" funds from Tallahassee are specifically categorized for teacher raises and can't be used for anything else and (2) a half mill referendum that could have pumped an estimated $7 million into our schools was narrowly defeated last August. After six years of cuts to reading coaches, art and music programs, and more, further cuts will continue to directly damage the education our children receive.
It's clear to anyone paying attention that a boost in community investment towards our students and our teachers is going to be needed at the earliest and most practical opportunity. We believe it's critical for the school board to get serious about a long term solution that does exactly that. Sign our petition to the school board today.
Below the fold, check out the email we sent out to our supporters today:
It's been close to two months since 261 teachers and support personnel were essentially handed pink slips and told they probably didn't have a job next year. While different band-aids and short-term "solutions" are being debated by our school board, isn't it time to put together a long term plan that breaks the cycle of cuts, layoffs, and substitutes that's damaging our children's education?
Sign our petition to the Marion County School Board and tell them now is the time to develop a long term solution that increases community investment in our students and teachers.
Thankfully, some of those laid off in May have been given their jobs back, but only because a high number of resignations and retirements freed up enough resources to do so. The fact is our schools remain in a dangerous and unsustainable position. Contrary to what some have said, there isn't any serious "fat" or "waste" to cut after six long years of budget cuts. If there's been any genuine fiscal mismanagement by our school district, it's been the complete failure to raise revenue to balance out local and state cuts along with unfunded mandates from Tallahassee.
It's time for the denial to end - the Marion County School District does not have the resources to meet the needs of our students and teachers. It hasn't had the resources it's needed for years. Doing nothing about revenue and paving the way for more cuts, layoffs, substitutes, and financial gimmicks only further hurts our students and shortchanges our community's future. Enough.
Sign our petition and tell the school board it's time step up with a serious long-term plan that increases community investment.
Many of our neighbors have figured this out. Alachua, Orange, Pinellas, and Seminole counties have all increased their community's investment in their schools. These communities have successfully weathered budget cuts and Tallahassee's antics and have protected their reading coaches, art and music teachers, vocational programs, and more.
The Marion County School Board needs to hear from you, so sign the petition today.
They need to know that we're tired of seeing our students and teachers treated the way they've been.
They need to know we're demanding a serious solution, and not more of the same.
They need to know that if they lead, we will stand behind them, and that if they don't, we will show them the way.
For our schools,
Nancy and the Marions United team