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2011-05-19

Cake courses on their way out

Carolyn B. Edwards

At last week's Bandera ISD board meeting, Superintendent Kevin Dyes pointed out a few unpleasant facts about the district's budget for next year.

After 40-50 high school students who had qualified for state and national honors this year had been applauded by the board, Dyes indicated no such parade of excellence might be held next year.

That's because the board will be looking at some serious cuts in the multi-million dollar district budget in order to compensate for cuts in state funding that are expected to come out of the Legislature currently meeting in Austin.

And while suggesting eliminating costly programs like football verge on apostasy in Texas, and the administrators in charge of developing the budget almost never look at the salary budget line that covers themselves and their brethren, cutting programs that benefit non-college bound students and the intellectual elite are almost invariably the first to disappear.

These are the programs that Dyes referred to as "cake" programs.

In order to make deep budget cuts, programs like FFA, Ag mechanics, business courses, building trades, culinary arts and cosmetology will no longer be offered.

University Interscholastic League academic competitions such as debate, public speaking, one act play, music, art, math and science will be dropped. Indeed, any class not required in the state curriculum for graduation, will be threatened.

Some will say, well, we don't really need those courses, do we?

For the many students who are not college bound, vocational classes give them vital training for post-graduation jobs.

UIL academic winners earn scholarships and grants to better colleges.

All of these classes and activities teach the value of teamwork, responsibility and excellence.

Other school districts have taken serious looks at the possibility of ending bus transportation, a huge item on any district's budget; increasing class sizes, changes in scheduling. Eliminating all extra-curricular activities (except football, see above) may be considered.

In some ways, this severe budget crunch may serve as a beneficial catharsis for inefficiently run school districts.

We can only hope that some dead wood, duplication of services and unnecessary services will be eliminated.

After a year of having no state and national champions coming out of our schools, we may see a leaner, meaner public education system. Taxpayers may even consider a tax increase to provide our children with the best education we possibly can.

Those trophies and plaques make an impressive in the BHS lobby.

It would be a shame not to be able to add to the collection.