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Letter: High School Student Talks School Budget

A North Kingstown High School student voices her and her classmates' concerns over the school department's budget.

To the editor:

My name is Kristin O’Connor and I am one voice from a sea of students at North Kingstown High School. In Mr. Avedisian’s first period democracy class, we were asked to study the school budget and make very challenging decisions and cuts. We soon realized how difficult and how much pressure is involved in this process.

In our opinion, we feel that no cuts should be made and that the town should be looking for ways to preserve and enhance all programs in the school department. However, we realize that during difficult economic times we must do the unthinkable and begin dismantling our school system. Some of the most important things to a student’s education, besides their classes, are opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities. We do not support any cuts to sports, activities and classes.

We are all aware that – come time to make cuts – sports, activities and classes will most likely be cut without another thought. We do not agree with that possible decision. Without these motivations, and ways to express ourselves, students at NK may venture to other schools in search of the programs they desire. Many students and athletes who maintain their grades will lose the inspiration that sports and activities provide.  Therefore, if the Town of North Kingstown does not properly fund the school system, there will be a sea of black and gold in total disbelief.

Our only goal is to try and get the town of NK to see that when you cut a sport, activity, or a class, you cut short the passion and dreams of many students at NK. Thank you for your time and we hope that the Town of North Kingstown will see that it is money well spent.

Sincerely,

Kristin O’Connor,

a representative from Mr. Avedisians 1st period democracy class

Kristin, the author March 28, 2012 at 01:31 AM
I want to thank everyone for reading my letter and taking the time to respond. This letter did exactly what I hope it would do, which is get students and tax payers attention about the possible budget cuts. Thank you to the students who voiced their opinions, and also the taxpayers who showed me the other side I was not seeing. As you can see, our school is very important to us and the upcoming budget discussion will have a dramatic impact on the NK school systems. What the other students have been saying is correct; families will not want to move to NK, students will lose motivation to do well. I completely understand that the tax payers do not want to spend more money, but this is important to the students and it keeps our morale up, and reflects great upon the town. Don't you want to be a part of a town that is known for our basketball team or our fishing club? I appreciate all the comments, and I would like to hear more opinions from the people who do not want they’re to be a 4% tax increase. I am hoping that through this discussion, we will get the town more aware of the April 9th meeting that will determine the fate of NK. Thanks to all the students of NK who supported me, I appreciate it so much! Thank you again Kristin, the author of the letter
Dark star March 28, 2012 at 02:20 AM
Do any of the students posting on here know what percentage of the school budget is dedicated to salaries and contracts?
GoDuddle March 28, 2012 at 02:32 AM
To Conserned Residence , I hope you are not over 18 Becuase you look pretty pathetic arguing with students from this high school about the school budget. This is now personal. We do realize we will be tax payers in te future for schools and other government related things but you are complaining about paying the for a school. Have you ever thought about other pointless things you pay for in taxes. Don't point fingures at students for support a fellow student and the school budget. I know adults now thy pay taxes and went to this high school and tell me we have an amazing school system and are glad on pay taxes for any high school. Think about other pointless taxes you pay before you get you underwater in a bunch about the school budget.
Dark star March 28, 2012 at 02:43 AM
GoDuddle, your grammar and spelling leaves much to be desired. Not a good example of NK education. Your teachers and administration are overpaid and based on your spelling and grammar, aren't doing a very thorough job.
Mike March 28, 2012 at 03:07 AM
Be nice...they a just a couple of well meaning kids. To paraphrase Churchill: if you are 18 and are not a liberal you have no heart. If you are 30 and not a conservative, you have no brain. Frankly, I'm more concerned about the appearance of manipulation of our young people by these teachers. If the teachers want to discuss democracy and economics, the federal debt and the lack of a federal budget for the last three years may be a safer and more germane topic.
Courtney March 28, 2012 at 11:28 AM
Tired of NK antics, If you think we are not getting the proper education, then please help up keep the education that we have. Don't cut the budget.
Concerned Resident March 28, 2012 at 11:52 AM
It is unfortunate that teachers use any and all means including the obvious use of students to obtain their means. This point has been proven again and again “including with this blog”. The same refuse to answer the obvious while attempting to drown out individuals that attempt to expose them. It is time to correct union mentalities as it is the tax paying residents that they work for and not the opposite. I challenge all to attend any NK SC meeting to see how dysfunctional this group is. I challenge all to attend any NK SC meeting to see their refusal to implement savings. I challenge all to attend any NK SC meeting to see unions control the SC. I challenge all to attend the TC budget vote meeting to see unions demand more without regard to any other resident(s). I challenge all to understand and to see the truth.
GoDuddle March 28, 2012 at 12:13 PM
^Agrees, thank you !
AB March 28, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Nobody attends the town meetings! If we want to get our points across, we all need to go. I agree with Concerned Resident here, we need to work together in order make a solution that will positively effect all of us, whether we are students or town residents.
Dominique Hildebrand March 28, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Do you mean essay? Someone should head back to high school
Concerned Resident March 28, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Just another one ............. "The Union's Tool", yea I know, it's for the kids.
Joe Smith March 28, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Dear Kristin and other students, Well done for challenging yourselves with a relevant and complex issue in class and attempting to apply what you learn in the classroom to solve "real-world" issues. Perhaps you could convince your teacher to hold a public forum where you and your classmates articulate what areas we should be investing more resources in and what areas we could divest. You could also explain your rationale for these decisions and explain the criteria you used to arrive at your decisions. What does "properly fund" mean -- is that simply a regurgitation of what your teachers and administrators say or do you all have your own thoughts? For example, I agree with you that co-curricular activities provide great opportunities that enhance the effectiveness of the educational process. Do you think we need our own cafeteria service or should we outsource it like every other high school in RI does and save the $200,000+ a year that gets taken out of the general fund (which pays for some of things you state are important like the basketball team or fishing club)?
Gotheem March 28, 2012 at 05:25 PM
The students would attend the meeting but they start at 1:00 pm. I don't know about you but I am in school where I belong. Nobody has time, not even the parents, to attend the meetings. This is a way to get away from hearing people's thoughts. The agenda is for the school budget to be discussed at the start of the meeting when nobody can attend. Even though the meeting is open to the public.
Concerned Resident March 28, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Amazing how ?students? are able to correspond during school hours.
Dark star March 28, 2012 at 06:40 PM
I posed this question last evening and have yet to get a response so I will ask again: Do any of the students posting on here know what percentage of the school budget is dedicated to salaries and contracts? If so, what is it. If not take a guess. What do you think it might be? This is an important number to know if you really want to have a budget discussion.
Dave March 28, 2012 at 09:02 PM
I watched the meeting, and there is not one thing wrong with the School Committee. There are, however, TWO people who are incredibly rude disruptive and disorderly on the Committee. God himself couldn't control those two.
Dave March 28, 2012 at 09:20 PM
And to the people who continue to challenge the students who are posting on here, and are saying they aren't students, do you not know anyone under the age of 20?? These kids on all online, and they all talk to one another, and they all defend one another...they're kids all right, and shame on the so-called adults sniping at them.
Dark star March 28, 2012 at 09:30 PM
@Michael, nice job. Now, knowing those figures, where can substantive reductions be made? Even if the town approves the 4% increase the Supt asked for, cuts still need to be made to get to that spending level(refer to the one page handout given by the supt. a few weeks ago). I realize you and your peers feel nothing should be be cut, but the reality of the situation is just the opposite. 84% of the entire general fund is tied up in salary and benefits. Your teachers are urging you to get involved with the process because it will effect the student body. Why are the teachers and their union not offering any help? Teachers and admin got raises this year and the teachers will get a raise next year. Did your mother and/or father get raises last year and this year? You see Michael, its not "all about the kids" as the teachers would lead you to believe. If it were, the teachers and their union would be front and center, eager to offer consessions.
Joe Smith March 29, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Michael - As someone perhaps in a position to take the pulse of the students, would students rather have an extra $200K and a group like Sodexho running the cafeteria or the status quo? Do you think administrators' pay should be tied to the teachers' pay or should they be held to some performance goals as part of their pay (let's compare that to a group project -- should everyone just get the group grade or should part of the grade reflect the contribution of individual members?)? The educational model used was developed decades ago before the digital, wired era..couldn't you take for example AP courses on-line at a self-directed pace with a hired tutor available on a periodic basis to meet with students? When an organization is "labor" heavy, the marginal value of labor diminishes (sorry if you have not had econ 101) so firms look to "capital" to replace labor..what do you think we could do educationally to customize your education for what you want to do after graduation (be it college or right into a profession) using digital methods and less reliance on teachers?
Concerned Resident March 30, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Not proven wrong, just tired of unions posing as students and or using student as pawns. I have watched such use every and any means to ensure their agenda. How much has the union given back to show that it's for the kids. Can't seem to hear you - how much???
Concerned Resident March 30, 2012 at 11:52 AM
Wow, that famous union question......... Wow, answering a question(s) with a question(s), another union tactic. Are you also aware of the union prayer? Either a union member or a pawn. You have been exposed such that my work is complete. Have a good day!
Chuckles March 30, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Dear Concerned Resident, The union has not given anything to students. They have no correlation to the student body. They do not pay us, nor use us as "pawns". None of the students know what this "Union Prayer" is that you ask if we students know. We STUDENTS have no involvement in any sort of union here at the school. The teacher's contracts are not up until next year, so "posing" as students truly serves no purpose or point. Your argument is senseless and irrational. Have you decided to ask any of the students at the high school about this? Have you any knowledge of the situation here at all? If you TRULY believe that we are teachers posing as students, then why do you not investigate the matter yourself? You are making false accusations. We STUDENTS are fighting for our own personal interests in our education and our lives. We have watched school committee meetings. The students here are discontent with how things are being run, that they are choosing to run for the Town Council. We STUDENTS take time from our lunch period to post here, because we need to sacrifice our personal time to be able to have our voices be heard. We are allowed to use the time we have for lunch to use the library for schoolwork, email for those that do not have computers at home, and people that are dedicated. You have not completed any work. You have only continued to show how cantankerous you are, and are completely unable to be logical. We STUDENTS are working to better our education.
eathen lord March 30, 2012 at 07:46 PM
good ideas, do you think they will listen? not knowing the town or how local politics operate i'm hesitant to offer an opinion, I will say this: extracurricular activity enhances classroom activity. best of luck to you.
Courtney G. March 31, 2012 at 01:41 AM
Mike, As a junior-year student currently enrolled in Democracy, I know that part of our class is based around current events. The school budget happens to make up a large part of the current events in NK. The federal debt and budget may be a safer topic, but the school budget is closer. In addition, a large lesson we are meant to learn in this course is how to analyze and participate in the local issues. By writing letters like Kristin's, students can show that we care what happens in our home town and in this way are not dissimilar to the adults that have raised us. Please do not worry about the approach our teachers use to ensure we learn our lessons. By the way, my teacher used the exact same Churchill quote in class today.
Brenton Bauerle April 03, 2012 at 02:22 PM
The problem lies with the Town Council, which has raised taxes in every sector except for the schools for two years running. The problem lies with the basic assumption that school is merely about class, and not a comprehensive means of creating a fully functional, socially conscious human being. So please stop with your baseless accusations, and hide your ignorance, because we students of NK are not a megaphone for the opinions of our teachers to be blared out. We are concerned students of North Kingstown High School, with our own opinions and our own voices, and we will not allow you or any other domineering presence to silence the completely valid arguments made by students like Kristen, who know firsthand that education does not stop when the final bell of the school day rings; it continues into our athletic activities, clubs, and social events that you, Concerned Resident, would take away from us. Sincerely, Brenton Bauerle
Brenton Bauerle April 03, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Dear Concerned Resident, My name is Brenton John Coleman Bauerle, Co-Editor-in-Chief of North Kingstown High School's newspaper, and one of the three student representatives to the North Kingstown School Committee. I am certifiably, one hundred percent, a real person and not a teacher "posing" as a student, as you have so demeaned the comments of these well-educated, well-informed youths, an action that is probably the result of your failure to believe that we students, even at our young age, have the capacity to make rational decisions and think for ourselves. In response to all your comments, sir or madam, I contend that the problem does not lie with teachers "using students as propaganda," an accusation which is ludicrous and insulting to the intelligence and individuality of our student body and equally insulting to the integrity and professionalism of our faculty, nor does the problem lie with teachers "not paying their fair share," which is a blatantly false accusation against a union that has not received a pay raise through several contract negotiations and now, as a result of Rhode Island pension reform, has to pay higher pension rates and wait longer to receive benefits. No, Mr. Concerned Resident, the problem does not lie with students like Kristen, or teachers like Mr. Avedisian; the problem lies with people like you, who feel that shouldering the financial burden of educating our youth is not worth the effort.
Dark star April 06, 2012 at 12:13 PM
Teachers receive a "step" raise every year, regardless of attendance or performance. Teachers also received a 1% increase on top of their step increases this year and will also receive the same next year. The previous 3 year contract contained "step" raises, ignoring performance, ans well as percentage increases. I know, I know, they now pay 20% co- pay on their health insurance. Yes they do..still less than the typical taxpayer that funds their salaries. So to Say the " teachers have not received a pay increase through several contract negotiations now" is not accurate. Time for better research.
Chuckles April 09, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Teachers, even with the step raises have not been making the same amount of money they were several years ago. Since 2004 they have removed over 12 teachers. Sure, a lot of the money (Which is less than half of the funding received) goes to pay our teachers, but we need to pay for educators, who EDUCATE the children. We are also the 13th lowest district of all 36 in lowest in pupil spending by over $2,000 of the state. Voters of NK have been constantly cutting over the past four years. We cannot keep cutting.
Brenton Bauerle April 10, 2012 at 01:40 AM
As far as I recall, @Tired of NK Antics, the "step" system is present in every school district in the state, and is a staple of education across the country. What kind of job does not have a salary that increases with longevity? From plumber to bus driver to attorney to teacher, a record of employment with a single employer usually entails an annual or even half-annual raise. Your arguments against the step system not only are counter intuitive, but also contradicts the idea of cutting older teachers jobs, a move I feel that you probably support based on your arguments, because doing so is actually taking advantage of the "step" system by replacing a high step teacher at 60,000 dollars with a first step teacher who makes roughly 30,000 dollars. Making statements simply to contradict other peoples points is not getting any point across besides the one that shows that YOU need to do more research, sir or madam.
WEARENK May 07, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Hello. I fully support Kristen, Brenton, Michael, and any other loyal, articulate, and truly concerned young adults who have voiced their opinions on this forum. I now step up to join their ranks. I am a sophomore at NKHS. I am not a member of a union...my age makes that impossible. The idea that I am a "union rat" or a "teacher's pawn" is, in layman's terms, plain silly. Please, consider yourself before you fire off thoughts, "concerned" resident- your circular arguments, irrational thoughts, and never-ending accusations make you look downright asinine. As a student, and a prospective Liberal Arts major, I am disappointed in some of the talk that has occurred here. Please, residents, take a step back for a second. Remember, if you can, your high school careers, and what made you feel that it was a worthwhile experience. Remember the items on your resumes which helped you achieve your current positions. Now consider how drastically impacted your future would have been if you had not had these items. Plain and simple, without any numbers, figures, or PDF files, I would just like to say the following. We students look forward to becoming educated and functioning adults in this community. Pretty soon we will be running this show. A bunch of robots with only bare-bones educations will not help keep this sinking rowboat afloat. 2% milk is not the healthiest kind for growing children... Cheers, A Skipper

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