Guest Commentary: Schools will open their doors next fall

Guest Commentary: Schools will open their doors next fall
 
Date May 18, 2006
Section(s) Columnists
Brief  
 
By STEVE McDERMOTT

Newton Community School Superintendent

In response to both the recent Maytag news and to all the outside speculation of what will happen here, I feel the need to share a few facts related to our school district. Our Newton Community Schools will open their doors next fall, students will enter and teaching and learning will occur. No one is certain how many students will attend school here next August. I can assure you we will be staffed to serve at least as many students as were enrolled this school year.

Our budget has been built and certified for the next school year. Staff cuts or major budget alignment moves will not be made until we see where our enrollment lands next fall. The official count day is always the third Friday in September. If our enrollment drops dramatically, we’ll need to adjust our budget and staffing levels accordingly. If enrollment remains fairly steady, we may not need to make major adjustments beyond moves dictated by high fuel prices or various other factors. Of course we hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

No matter what happens, we will keep the community informed. If significant changes in our community schools are ever proposed, community members and stakeholders will have opportunities to share their thoughts before decisions are made.

The fact is, after already losing approximately 2,600 jobs before last week’s news, our total enrollment has declined, but not as much as one would expect. We haven’t seen a direct correlation between the number of jobs lost and our enrollment decline. As I’ve told many people, we’ll have a nice town and quality schools here for a long time. What’s uncertain is how our community will evolve and how quickly it will rebound.

Sometimes we get too caught up in the numbers. What may be my biggest concern is the loss of so many quality individuals from Newton, Kellogg and surrounding areas. We stand to lose many leaders, dedicated volunteers, caring neighbors, dependable contributors and outstanding young people. We realize many are now making decisions that will change the course of their lives and those of their family members. Our hearts go out to everyone working through this time of adversity.

On the other hand, we all know the quality of life and many benefits this place has to offer. I’ve heard many encouraging stories of people finding ways to remain in Newton. New neighbors will join us in our community’s transition, as well.

What I have witnessed here in children and adults alike is a general resilient nature. There are many people in this community that have risen above tough times before and they’ll do it again. We here at school will continue to do our best to support children and families no matter what challenges arise. Of course, education is our primary focus and we believe the best way to support our students is to make certain they are learning every day in our schools.

If you have thoughts, ideas or suggestions related to our schools or the district’s future, please call me at 792-5809 or write to me at mcdermotts@newton.k12.ia.us.

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