SWCS Does Spend – With Caution

To The Reader’s Forum:

I am writing to take exception to The Post-Journal’s editorial on May 18, addressing upcoming school budget votes. The paragraph that reads “They (school districts) spend seemingly without caution — and lose sight of conservative policies that help when times get tough” is a patently false statement at least when applied to the Southwestern School District. I can only presume other districts do not spend without caution in good times.

As a school board member, I have sat through nine budget presentations. Each year is different from the others. I cannot recall a single time where the district has spent money on frivolous budget items. A lot of spending decisions are made depending on the percentage of state aid that covers certain budget expenditures. The state allocates aid to each district and each district has a defined amount of money it can raise through the tax levy. The state enacted a tax cap to prevent excessive taxation of its residents. The state also closely controls the amount of reserves the district can maintain and they are enforced by regular financial audits.

School superintendents are required to make decisions that affect students, employees and taxpayers on a daily basis. In tough economic times, those decisions become infinitely more difficult. Through thorough planning, analysis and frank discussion, superintendents, staff members and board members do their best to make the most out of the money that is available in their budget. School districts are also required to abide by strict purchasing laws that require competitive bidding and the solicitation of quotes. The allegation that school districts spend without caution is absurd to me.

Although not directly germane to the topic of school budgets, I would like to publicly acknowledge the efforts of district administrators, teachers, support staff, students and their parents for stepping up and taking care of business during the pandemic. You have all exemplified our motto “Trojan Tough” and I am grateful for and humbled by your efforts.

Kurt D. Gustafson


Southwestern School Board member


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