Declining enrollment will not be as painlessly absorbed this time around, according to Monday’s USD 410 Board of Education meeting (Page 15). Three teaching positions are slated to be “nonrenewed” for next fall at Hillsboro Elementary School because enrollment in kindergarten through grade six has declined by more than 80 students over the past eight years.
One the same night the board met to discuss this emotional issue, Bruce Anthony was the guest speaker at a gathering to honor Hillsboro High School students who had achieved at least a 3.5 grade-point average through the first three quarters of this school year. Anthony began his presentation by reading a humorous poem about a town that foolishly decided to address the number of vehicles driving off the edge of a nearby cliff by providing ambulance service in the valley below instead of building a fence that would keep the vehicles from driving off the cliff.
The point of the poem was clear: Is it not wiser to try to prevent a tragic situation from happening than waiting to respond to the victims of a tragedy after it occurs?
Does the poem apply to the challenge of declining enrollment? Instead of solving our fiscal crisis by cutting teachers who teach the most vulnerable of our students, maybe we need to find creative ways to attract more young families to our communities so their children can enroll in our schools.
What kind of fences could we design? -DR