Parents had the right to be informed

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 12, 2003

It's said that effective communication can solve problems 90 percent of the time.

However, it appears that Austin School Board and administration officials failed to discuss potential employee and curriculum cuts and mergers with district parents.

That wasn't a wise move.

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Administration officials have said that in previous years, they made their recommendations on staffing and curriculum changes and then presented those changes to the board. The board has usually approved the recommendations.

However, with funding shortages due to the state's poor financial condition, tough decisions have to be made. Some of those decisions include merging programs and cutting positions.

Being a school board member is a thankless job, for sure. We appreciate each board member and the dedication they give to district residents.

However, those residents should have been able to have a dialogue with board members and/or district officials well before the board made its recent decision on district programs and staffing.

The board would have done well to look at what city of Austin officials did when faced with a looming shortage in local government aid. Officials took a proactive approach and started making a plan to see how they were going to overcome this obstacle.

More important, they sought opinions from city residents on ideas for cost savings and listened to their concerns on how the problem could be overcome together.

Sure, not everyone was happy about the reduced amount of aid. But Austin officials essentially said, "This is the hand we've been dealt. We'd like your input on the best way to play it."

Board members and district officials would have been wise to do something similar.

We're confident the school board made the best decision it could for the district, considering that outside funding continues to dwindle each year.

However, making a good-faith effort to meet with parents in advance to address their concerns may have helped avoid hard feelings some parents now have with the board and district officials.