Tahlequah Daily Press

October 21, 2011

Ask B&GC about funds


— Editor, Daily Press:

Two newspaper articles recently have brought to mind the parable of the five high-schoolers who approached their parents one February with an idea to form a car pool.

All were good students who also played varsity baseball. Though each rode the school bus in the morning, each was picked up after practice by his parents. The boys saw that by carpooling, each family’s car would make only one trip to/from the school each week. The parents thought this was a great idea, and to help out, they agreed to put a half-tank of gas in the family car each day their son was to drive for the first five weeks. But with the sixth week, each boy was to pay for his own gasoline from his $20 weekly allowance.

Things went well until the Saturday before the sixth week, when the boy who was to drive on Monday came to his parents for money to put gas in the family car. His parents reminded him of their agreement and asked him what happened to his money. He said he had had $20 on Friday when an announcement was made that the money from the school’s vending machines was going send the high school’s Teacher of the Year on a trip around the world. Since he knew the teacher, he spent $5 on candy bars. The other $15 he had was for a date that evening. He admitted he had not saved any of his earlier allowance ($80) to use for gas, but didn’t know what he had spent it on.

His parents reminded him he had a responsibility to them, to his friends, and to himself. So instead of a date. he was to put gas in the family car, which he did, and they helped him set up a budget before he got his next allowance. The moral of the story: By facing his responsibilities, the boy learned a valuable lesson in planning and budgeting.

I was at the school board meeting in September when the Boys & Girls Club resolution was presented, and to the accurate report I would add two comments. First, Mr. Spears explained the sales tax would “only” be 25 cents on a $100 purchase, and if a person didn’t want to pay the tax, he or she could shop elsewhere. He also said unless the city approves a five-year, 25 percent sales tax right away to support the BGC, some severe cuts, like “no summer program next year,” would have to be made. Dr. Goodsell said this sales tax would raise “about $350,000 a year.”

It would be easy to talk numbers. For example, Dr. Goodsell has said that once work at Heritage is done, it still will cost the school district $750,000 to open the doors. If the loss of $120,000 (12 percent of B&GC’s budget) in federal funding can jeopardize B&GC, why not delay the opening of Heritage School for six years? That $750,000 would fully match the loss of federal funding for the B&GC for six years, plus give the school administration (and board) time to develop budgets, which address all essential and desired school services.

The truth is, the second article, on the school resource officers, is the real alarm. It reminds us this problem with B&GC is not the first time the school board and administration have failed to meet their responsibilities. The SRO program, like the B&GC, began with a time-limited grant, which expired. Today it is funded  for the most part, if not entirely, by the city.

I have great respect for the work of the school resource officers and the B&GC. They provide valuable services to our children. I admire those citizens who seek to serve their community by running for public office. But I take exception with elected officials and high-priced school administrators who, through their own neglect, now seek to get the community to pay for the programs they themselves are supposed to fund and oversee.

I urge the mayor and city council to tell the school board and administration to show where the money they got went; to explain how they all failed to plan for this end of federal funding; to find the money to pay for the B&GC from within the school budget; and to stop expecting the taxpayer to bail out the school board and administration.

It’s time to be responsible.

Ron Crouch