The right priorities in Cahokia?

June 12, 2013 

In February when Cahokia School Superintendent Art Ryan talked about the various cost-cutting options on the table, he acknowledged that none of the possibilities were good for the kids.

So maybe the school board's decision this week to close the freshman center, the School of Choice high school and the Jerome Early Childhood Center to balance the district's budget is the lesser of the evils. But our fear is that education is being shortchanged for the sake of protecting sports and other extracurriculars.

The district could have saved $1 million of the $1.5 million it needed to cut by eliminating extracurriculars, which are nice but not the core mission of education. Instead, it chose this path.

Ryan points out the educational programs all will remain. Yes, but students will be in more crowded settings, and transportation will have to change.

Of prime concern: The high school, which this school year has about 750 students, next year will have about 1,000 students. Freshman, rather than being separated in a more controlled environment, will be mixed in with older students.

It's clear that sports and other extracurriculars are a priority for many parents and students in the district. But reading, math, science and history should be the real priorities.

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