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Teachers cant solve school budget crisis

Now is the time for us to stand arm-in-arm with a unified voice, calling upon our legislators.

Prior to the unanimous approval of the 2011-12 Forest Grove School District budget, we heard committee members express their concern for what is being lost, the reality of what we are faced with and the resolve in knowing we will weather this storm and eventually come out the other side.

This sentiment could not have been captured more poignantly than by Budget Committee Chair Fred Sherrill's inspirational words.

With its approval, the question is: What next? On the face of it, things appear pretty straight-forward. The school board will most likely adopt the budget at its next meeting on June 13.

It is the hope of Forest Grove educators that before taking such action, the board members will have done their due diligence, reprioritized the budget and found the means in which to bring back the essential programs that they value and know are vital to a quality education for our students.

But even if they do this, we know the funding for K-12 public education is not adequate and this places our district with the grim reality it faces.

The district has been able to circumvent these deep cuts in the past by a variety of means, but now the shortage is too large to be adequately covered and, in fact, we heard time and again from Mike Schofield, incoming business manager, and others explain how options utilized in previous years do not yield sustainable savings in which the Forest Grove School District can operate from.

We also know some will turn to the education association yet again to 'save the day.'

Forest Grove educators cannot be seen as the endless revenue source by which to solve the district's budgetary woes, because no matter what we do, it won't be enough to solve the crisis.

Please remember it is the school board that builds the budget and ultimately controls the priorities for the District.

We cannot make the difficult decisions for those elected officials responsible with that charge.

The Forest Grove Education Association believes in our students.

It is why we come in on weekends, come in early, stay late and take work home with us at the end of the day.

It is why we open our own pocketbooks to purchase supplies and materials in order to provide engaging and innovative lessons.

It is why we go above and beyond to work with students and their families to help them through tough times.

It is why we became educators, one of the noblest professions in the world.

It is why we believe this situation which the Forest Grove School District and other districts across our state face should serve as a wake-up call.

Now is the time for us to stand arm-in-arm with a unified voice calling upon our legislators to find viable solutions to our K-12 public education funding problem.

- Jeff Matsumoto,

President

Forest Grove Education Association