Imagine, if you will. Colleges send their scouts out to all the different high schools looking for their next Tim Lincecum or Zack Greinke. They sit in the stands at numerous games, taking notes and writing down names for those ballplayers they wish to extend invitations to for the next season’s college teams. Several students will receive scholarships to guarantee their entrance to their college. And a select few of those star ballplayers will go even farther and be drafted to a major league baseball team.
These scouts will not be attending any Santa Rosa high school games.
Last night the school board voted to strip the Jr. High and High Schools of their spring sports. This includes, not only baseball, but track, swimming, softball, badminton, boys tennis and boys golf. They also voted to shorten the school year by 3 more days, increase the class size from 28 to 29*, and take away the IB program that is dedicated to those students excelling in their studies. On the only bright side of the evening, the board agreed to defer the vote on eliminating 7-8 librarian positions – a move that could mean much less study time for students who use the library during school breaks and study periods. That vote will take place February 17th.
Frankly, I’m furious. It is true the Santa Rosa schools are strapped for funds right now. And budget cuts have to come somewhere. But taking away school sports? To be a part of a high school team, a student must maintain a minimum of a C average and stay out of trouble. For some students, this is their motivation for keeping up their grades and behavior. For some students, being a part of the high school team is equal to breathing. It is their passion, their drive. And we are yanking it away. And yes, this vote strikes a personal chord with me. My 9 year old son is passionate about sports, and is exceptionally good at baseball. I am excited for the day when I can be in the stands at his high school, cheering him on as he plays. This vote takes that future hope away from me. If I am outraged over this vote before my son has even reached that stage, I can only imagine the anger and disappointment of those students and their families that this vote affects now.
Santa Rosa High student, Hannah Croft, also voiced her outrage in the Teen Life blog. “…as I’ve learned in my month in economics, there is money left unspent. The reserve funds, a percentage of the district’s annual income, are untouchable. However, even without the reserve funds, the district finishes each year in the black, with more money than they expected. We are tightening the budget at this point, because our school board isn’t much for estimation. Our projected spending exceeds the actual spending year after year, by thousands of dollars.” She continues that “steps can be taken to save money before we cut spring sports, leave Mesa students in the dust, or throw forty students in one English class. Ask teachers to unplug their refrigerators, microwaves, computers, and other appliances over the weekends. Turn off heating and air conditioning when no one is on campus. These steps seem simple, yet we’ve bypassed them, and jumped into these anvil-sized budget cuts.”
My opinion as far as budget cuts go? Reduce the amount of school districts by combining them. Does Santa Rosa really need 41 school districts, complete with their own staff and offices and all the other costs that go along with them? Increase fundraising efforts from those participating in sports. Cut classes or programs that aren’t as popular or necessary in the school program. There has to be other avenues and measures that can be taken before taking away programs that are beneficial to our students.
The board promises to revisit this issue in April or May to see if any of these changes can be reversed. Parents, if you are as outraged as I am, I urge you to be a part of this meeting and make some noise. Our high school students deserve so much better than this.
*Note: class sizes are not being increased to 40 as previously stated, but are only increasing in size by 1 student. Thank you, Tad, for bringing this to my attention. 🙂