Gov. Pete Ricketts, very recently, said that a “big priority” for the 2021 Nebraska Legislature session is going to be approving spending limits on schools across the state. This comes in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic, one that has stretched school resources to their limits, staff members past the edge and students into never before seen emotional and educational issues. Yet, Gov. Ricketts thinks spending limits are appropriate.
The simplest argument against such an overreach was best echoed by Sen. Adam Morfeld in a tweet:
“We already have spending limits on schools — it’s called the local school board.”
Imagine this for a moment: Your job is to manage your department. Staffing, supplies, other expenses. You ensure that you stay within your budget, without overspending or underspending. An email crosses your inbox, from the CEO. A new policy is being enacted, and all of your spending must be restricted further. You already serve that role and yet, you are being limited.
And, truth be told, there are hundreds of regulations in Nebraska already regarding the spending, funding and other financial dealings of school districts. Budgets, in the case of several districts, are a year- round affair, with several people working together nonstop to ensure everything follows all existing rules, regulations, and still gets the job done.
Gov. Ricketts has a track record of being anti-public schools. He claims to be for small government, and yet, here we are. He says that “this must be done,” despite the outcry of nearly every educational professional who has been asked about the topic. True blooded Nebraskans realize the benefit that strong, well-funded public education brings to our state — bright minds, bright futures. The University of Nebraska system is a shining example.
There is no real reason, save for crippling the public school system in the state of Nebraska, to enforce spending limits. Schools should, to the best of their ability, invest as much as possible into each and every student they have, to ensure their success inside and outside of the classroom. And spending limits, if enacted, will severely limit their ability to do so.
Contact your local representative in the Legislature, contact the governor, and tell them to stand up for our school system. They need it now more than ever — and your voice must be heard.
Kendall Bartling is the student representative on the Grand Island Public Schools Board of Education.