Strict budget rules result in school budget blues

In the last five years, budget cuts have forced the Ames school district to close three separate elementary schools. Additionally, cuts have been made in several teaching departments throughout the district. During this time, Ames High has undergone major renovation, including a remodeled entrance and the building of a new cafeteria. The district also invested a great deal of money into building a new middle school. Even more recently, the school board approved the spending of $45,600 to build a wall between the new Ames High air conditioning system and the Northcrest Retirement Community. Noise complaints by Northcrest residents brought the wall proposal to the school board, and the comfort of our neighbors to the north should be important to the district. However, a more pertinent question remains than why the wall is being built: How can the district afford frequent building projects when cuts are constantly being made within the school to maintain budget? The answer is that our school district has separate budgets for maintenance projects and day-to-day needs of students and teachers within the school. The district receives grants that help cover the cost of maintenance projects, such as the new cafeteria and the proposed wall. Funding for teaching departments (materials, teacher salaries) must be financed solely by the school district with money provided by the state, which, needless to say, is not very much. So as the district continues to improve the quality of school buildings, it is becoming more difficult for students to receive the same quality education that is valued and expected in the Ames school district. The only solution to this dilemma is that the budget for our school district should be molded into a single budget, with no distinction between maintenance projects or day-to-day needs. In this set-up, money currently going toward unnecessary building projects would be available to purchase classroom books and new teaching equipment. Realistically, this decision does not lie in the hands of our school board. But whoever possesses the power to make this change, whether it is at a state or even national level, needs to realize that students are being affected by budget cuts. The Ames school district has long been identified by its high academic standards and the top-notch education it provides. But if budget cuts continue to hinder academic progress, Ames’ tradition of prowess in the classroom may be jeopardized. A single budget for all district spending is the solution that will keep Ames High, and the entire district, aiming high for years to come.