As America finds herself fully submerged in this downward economic spiral we’re in, school budgets are being cut – slashed, really – in just about every corner of America. Here in Charlotte, our superintendent has recently announced having to eliminate positions after trying to cut every other thing before having to lay off personnel. But it has come to that, and folks will be out of a job in an economy that makes finding a new job extremely difficult. Like him, I feel for these folks. I work at the district office in professional development, and while I have every reason to believe my job is secure, I can still feel the pain of the other district folks – the nervous group – whose jobs are sufficiently ill-defined so as to make them easy targets for layoffs.
And yet, somewhere in this mess I still see so much waste. I go to meetings in which there are 50 pages of handouts – all copied single-sided – with information that could easily be condensed to a dozen pages. But no one seems to notice. Or, I go to trainings of some sort or another in which pen sets or faux-leather portfolios embossed with the district logo are given out as small gifts for attending. Are the trainings that ordinary or boring or unsubstantial that gifts need to be handed out to somehow appease participants into thinking it was a great workshop?
How many other episodes of waste are routine in school districts? I am sure my district is no different from any large district in this way. Is it that those holding the purse strings have always spent money in these ways and that they are essentially irresponsible when it comes to spending? Are they watching the news about how people are losing jobs as the they, the spenders, continue to copy all the handouts with graphs in living color? The disturbing irony is that in many districts in which this kind of waste is happening at the the district level, there are teachers in schools being told they are “out of copies”, that they have exceeding their copy allotment for the year.
Maybe some of the lay-offs in my district were warranted and maybe the positions were superfluous. I don’t know. We’re big enough for that to be a possibility. But I don’t think I’d lay off a single person – district level or not – without first taking a hard look at the waste that is happening without consequence. What waste do you see where you are? I’d like to hear. dven.