Tom Hunter, Superintendent
“All About Learning”
Politics and education have probably never been more at odds than what we see today in Indiana. It doesn’t have to be a win or lose situation. We should all have one goal in mind and that is to provide the best education we can for our students. Education costs a great deal of money. It costs the State of Indiana, the Counties and Cities, and it costs individual taxpayers and parents. That cost is definitely rising but as we’ve seen since 2008 our schools are doing great things with less revenue. We have been forced to really prioritize our spending and this has been good for both sides of the cost argument. No more million dollar football complexes or extravagant school buildings. However, there is a limit to what we can provide in the way of a quality education with reduced revenue. Our greatest obstacle in controlling costs is the additional expenditures for children who come to us from homes dealing with severe poverty. These children require additional programs to address their needs. Their numbers are on the increase and their needs are great. Students that come from poverty need more than just books and a teacher. They need food, clothing, medical care, counseling, and a helping hand to be able to break the cycle of poverty that they often find themselves in. We can blame everything on drugs and lazy people but that is not the sole problem. Most of our students come from homes made up of the working poor. Wages do not provide for the basic needs of a family including such essentials as food and medical care. Often both parents are working and still can’t provide for their families. Jobs that once paid a good salary and provided long term security have been replaced with temporary service jobs. We must as a community come to the realization that poverty is rampant in our little town of Greensburg. Fifteen years ago Greensburg Schools had about 20% of our students on Free and Reduced lunches as compared to today with over 50% across the district. This should really alarm everyone when our community boasts of record unemployment and record creation of new jobs. Our students shouldn’t be growing up where the hope of a better life only exists if somehow you can go to college and get one of the high paying executive positions. Working adult salaries are decreasing yearly in spendable dollars and this leads to more students living in poverty.
I am writing about this because we are going to closely monitor our high school curriculum and make sure we are providing instruction in multiple areas that will allow students to find high paying jobs and break this cycle. Our community invested greatly this past year in a new Vocational Center ($2 million) and in providing 1:1 computers ($1 million) for all of our students. We need all the citizens in our community to help us in any way you can to keep students in school and provide vocational opportunities outside of our school classrooms. Partner with Greensburg Schools and we can use our community resources to break the poverty cycle. This will be done over time but it must happen as quickly as possible because time is running out for a whole generation of children. The cost of educating a child is about $6,500 per year. The cost of incarcerating an adult exceeds $50,000 per year according to CBS News. Although poverty doesn’t always equate to incarceration there is a significant correlation between poverty and crime according to the United Nations and World Bank. How do you want your money spent? A quality education is the only equalizer that eliminates the socio-economic income gap. Politicians and educational leaders work together in Greensburg. As I said in the beginning, it doesn’t have to be a win or lose situation for education or politics. Do what is best for the students of Greensburg.