The perfect punt
Faced Monday with the unenviable position of cutting supplemental contracts to save money, USD 410 school board punted. They tabled the decision until June.
It was a perfect punt. They had too many questions, and not enough answers. They just weren’t ready to make the call to cut four assistant coaches and three part-year weight room supervisors.
With the sorry condition of state education funding, they’ve known for months that cutting supplemental contracts was something they’d have to consider. The concept became reality Monday. While the proposed cuts were listed as “positions eliminated,” real people held those positions. A head coach spoke to them, arguing why keeping his assistant position would keep kids safer.
Thoughtful, difficult debate followed a lengthy executive session. Should other positions be sacrificed instead of these? Should smaller sports or other activities be cut instead of individual positions? How much cutting would be enough?
They could have approved the cuts as proposed by Superintendent Steve Noble and passed the buck to him. They didn’t. They asked him to come back to the next meeting with more information and more alternatives, including possible program cuts.
In short, board members did what they were elected to do — make wise, tough choices in the best interests of their constituents. Make no mistake about it, keeping people hanging for a month wondering about their fates was a tougher decision than rubber-stamping this proposal.
Barring a major reversal at the state level, cuts affecting sports or other student activities are certain. There’s no escape. These aren’t full-time jobs, but they’re sources of income people depend on, and some will be cut off, affecting students and staff.
Any choice to cut is a hard choice, but by buying time, board members bought whole hog into their responsibilities. They will make and own the choices. That’s how it’s supposed to work, which is why this was a perfect punt.
— david colburn
Last modified May 14, 2015