Challenges await school board members

Our school board is going to have a slightly different face when it convenes in two weeks for its June meeting.

New members Jenny Daniels and Billie Weber join three re-elected incumbents and the other four board members to face challenges that were not really on the horizon a year ago as school drew to a close.

Approximately $1 million has been cut from the district budget, including nearly 12 certified (teaching) positions. The pain has been alleviated slightly by the announcement two weeks ago that some federal stimulus money would allow the district to bring back several teachers who have been laid off to work in different positions.

But the reality is still grim, especially for the kids who started to learn music this year and who were starting to get used to consistent instruction in education. Of course, we have innovative teachers who have made things happen in these areas on their own, but without people dedicated to seeing kids get off their behinds, the same behinds they sit on when they go home to play video games and watch TV, it’s going to be a challenge to continue the progress that has been made.

And that’s one of the challenges this school board needs to face in a very serious way: Doing what’s best for kids.

Of course, this isn’t news to the district. Superintendent Larry Horton has voiced public enthusiasm for music and P.E., and he’s told us he feels badly that they have to be cut.

It’s important, of course, that our district’s students continue progress in the basics. They have been, as a whole. Test scores indicate that the consistent programs being used in our grade schools are helping a lot of kids write better, read better and do better in math, among other things. That’s very important.

But, as we’ve argued previously on this page, exercise and art are just as important, especially in our community and in our age when we hear daily how fat and out of shape Americans are getting. It may not be something the state tests for, but we take seriously the research that says that exposure to physical and creative activity will help kids learn better.

We have a board full of people who have told us they want to help kids, who want to make our schools better.

Let’s see how they address this challenge.

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We’re sorry to see Diane Gerson go, though we’re eager to see what the new members will bring to the board. Someone on the board will have to step up now and fill her shoes by reading the fine print and asking the detailed questions that have made her, we believe, a valuable part of the board. The good news is she says she isn’t going anywhere. Sweet Home will get a silver lining if Gerson stays active in district affairs and we have innovative new board members who contribute as strongly as she did, in their own areas of expertise.

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The community can be proud of our high school athletes not only for their achievements this year but for their conduct on the field.

As the school year draws to a close, our baseball, softball and golf teams may not have had the postseason success some were hoping for, but the players conducted themselves well this season and respected their opponents and officials even if the balls weren’t staying in their gloves or falling into the cups.

The track and field athletes who competed in last weekend’s state championships left a good impression on the officials and crowd, which numbered around 10,000, by competing successfully to win a state title on the boys side and fourth place on the girls, and by doing it with grace and respect.

It’s true sportsmanship when athletes graciously allow competitors to use their superior equipment or implements in the middle of an event. It’s true sportsmanship when they can graciously congratulate someone who has beaten them or graciously accept congratulations from an opponent they have defeated. That’s the kind of thing we saw a lot of this year when our staff was out covering sports and it is good.

An example that stands out particularly occurred last weekend at the state track meet. In this case, the two leaders in a race tangled at the finish line and sprawled to the track. A Sweet Home athlete, who had finished behind them walked up to one, who was obviously in pain, and ducked under the injured athlete’s arm and helped him off the track toward the medal stand, where the injured athlete would receive the first-place medal.

Who the Husky was isn’t as important as what he did. He did the right thing and he did it graciously and that was excellent sportsmanship, something we should be proud of.

Have a great summer, kids, and we hope to see many of you back on the fields and courts in the fall.