Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

For schools, self-budgets best even if money’s tight

Citizen Staff Writer
Our Opinion

Tucson schools long have chafed under one heavy-handed administration after another.

The 105 schools within the Tucson Unified School District for decades have been told not only what to do, but also precisely how to do it.

Not any more. Like a breath of fresh air, Superintendent Elizabeth Celania-Fagen now is infusing Tucson school communities with the power to set their own budgets – albeit with horrifically scarce funds.

The Legislature, not the school district, is responsible for the lack of money for schools. But even with funding tighter than ever, the ability to decide where to cut and what to keep is welcomed by local school site councils, consisting of parents, teachers, principals and staff.

This marks the first time they’ve been able to make budget decisions for their own schools. And even though most of the decisions will be grim – whether to overcrowd classrooms or eliminate the librarian, for example – those choices are better made by the people in the trenches, not by administrators at 1010 E. 10th St.

Parents and teachers – who know the children best – especially need to weigh in on such matters.

We appreciate Fagen’s ability to recognize this need, and to imbue the most pertinent parties with the power they should wield.

The superintendent, who came here from Iowa less than a year ago, also has begun overall district budget cuts by paring down top administration.

That, too, is a departure from tradition, which long has targeted the rank and file before ever – if ever – touching the upper echelons.

We congratulate Fagen for dispensing with the counterproductive caste system of yesteryear and treating educators with the professional respect and dignity they deserve.

Likewise, we are delighted to see community members – i.e. parents – have a voice in how their children’s schools are operated.

TUSD is caught smack-dab in the cross hairs of a dire recession and an education-stingy Legislature. Yet confidence within the district is rising nonetheless.

That’s thanks to Fagen’s actions and attitude.

Let’s keep this momentum going on behalf of all of TUSD’s students.

Double-hit by a recession and stingy Legislature, TUSD staff still are more confident thanks to new leader Fagen.

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