Referendum: Bonnette and Bylsma provide some answers

On December 6th, a committee meeting with the school board was held to discuss the tentative scenario of budget guidelines if the referendum does not pass. When it comes to what will be cut, both Superintendent David Bonnette and Principal Pam Bylsma agree it will be a tough decision.

“We’re trying to balance this off,” said Bonnette, “Why are we considering cutting any teaching positions when we have these clubs and sports that are described as extracurricular?”

On the other hand, the administration is aware of how important extracurricular activities are in a high school.

“When we think back to high school, we don’t always remember sitting in the classroom,” said Bylsma, “what we remember are the things we were involved in.”

After meeting with the rest of the board, the administration decided that, if they had to make cuts, it should be balanced. Clubs shouldn’t be the only thing cut and athletics shouldn’t be the only thing kept.   The administration has met with the leadership council and the school board.  They want to be sure they are getting advice from a number of sources about what should be kept and what should be cut.  They have also spoken to students on Student Association more broadly about the financial need for a referendum.

A tentative list of cuts was handed out at a community information meeting. “[The list]  was for people to consider and react too,” said Bonnette.

Because sports may be cut due to money issues, the question of whether teachers could voluntarily coach or sponsor has been raised on the forums of the Riverside Landmark, the local community newspaper. Bylsma and Bonnette both said that the current teacher contract would not allow volunteer coaching or sponsoring, but  they think that, if it was allowed, the teachers at RB would do so.

Some residents have also questioned how a referendum campaign is run and financed.  According to Bylsma, the school is not putting any money whatsoever towards campaigning for the referendum. The Patron’s council, PTA’s from feeder schools, and a citizens committee will promote the referendum.  Any funds raised for campaigning would come from these sources as well.

“We can only give information on the effects of the referendum passing or not. We cannot promote or campaign,” said Bylsma.  “School employees cannot campaign during school hours, but they can participate on their own time.”

There will be another public information meeting at 7:00 p.m. on December 13th, and the board will decide on referendum proposal on December 14th.