EDITORIAL: District considers budget, Stampede offers suggestions

As students and teachers at C. M. Russell finished up their first semester school work for 2013-2014, their counterparts representing the district have just begun working on plans for 2014-2015.

That’s right, while Rustlers studied for finals and tallied up final grades, the school board has been working on the budget for next school year.

Budget meetings have included presentations and projections thus far, with community members being encouraged to attend meetings. Now, there are only three meetings left, including one March 3 for “Final Budget and Recommendations” and another March 10 for “Board Meeting,” according to information from a link on the Great Falls Public Schools webpage.

With that being said, we as the Stampede  would like to make some of our own recommendations for where we think the district’s money would be best spent.

First, our readers will already know about some of the problems with the facilities here at CMR, as referenced in our October issue. We believe that all members of the CMR community would agree that updating our school’s bathrooms, especially the ones used by visitors, would be a good use of our money. Our facilities on the first floor and in the fieldhouse are seen by community members who come to games, concerts, and other events. We don’t want these visitors to have to use facilities that will cause them to judge our school harshly.

Next, we would like to see more money used towards textbooks. Some of our school’s books are old or in poor condition, and we have too few of some books. Just this fall, with the large freshman class, our school was not equipped with enough books. In other classes, such as Advanced Placement (AP) U. S. History or AP Government, students have to purchase their own textbooks instead of having their books provided by the school.

Another good use of the district’s money would be towards fixing problematic technology in our school. All too often are teachers and students faced with the rebellious computer or other piece of tech that refuses to cooperate. There are teachers who have computers that take minutes to start, while others must use sound systems that aren’t adequate when they show a video to their students.

Some people might say that the school already has enough technology, but the problem is technology that doesn’t function well, not a lack of equipment. Poorly functioning technology wastes a huge amount of time that could be spent covering more material or going deeper into subjects. Malfunctioning machinery can also introduce limitations on the creative projects for students. We have all met that one computer that refuses to open a program or show a student’s masterpiece. The Stampede staff is not saying the school needs to immediately purchase 500 ipads; we simply would like to eliminate bad technology and replace it with tools that work, and, most importantly, don’t waste time.

Finally, we believe our school needs to update  its temperature control. At the beginning of school in August and September, students were sweating and could hardly focus due to the heat and lack of air conditioning. Now, on the other side of the spectrum, students walk through the halls shivering because the school is not warm enough. Students and staff members should not have to be concerned about how cold or hot it is while they are in school. Focus should not be on uncomfortable temperatures; it should be on teaching and learning.

These are just a few suggestions about the budget, and, agree or disagree with the ideas we propose, the Stampede urges students and teachers and other community members to come up with their own ideas about our school’s budget. We encourage all to participate in this important event.

Attend a school board meeting at Paris Gibson Education Center from 5:30 until 7 p.m. on Feb. 20, March 3 or March 10 to offer your input on the budget process. Great Falls Public Schools encourages community members to attend meetings, and you can ask questions or make comments at the conclusion of each meeting.