Spectator editorial: Turf-toe

THE ISSUE: School districts are facing budget cuts, but receiving upgrades on athletic programs.

In a time when many Wisconsin school districts are being forced to cut programs to deal with decreasing funding for academics, schools should take all the help they can get regardless of the benefited program involved.

According to an article in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Kettle Moraine District is preparing for $1.2 million in program cutbacks. At the same time, a group called the Kettle Moraine Project Committee is seeking $460,000 to fund artificial turf on the football field.

Kettle Moraine is not the first school to take private donations for athletic upgrades while being forced to reduce classes and services elsewhere, according to the article.

The public’s willingness to give money to high school athletics instead of academic programs provides a tragic example of society’s educational priorities. Athletics should not trump academic programs, but since the money is coming from private donations, the district should respect the donor’s wishes.

With money being spent to upgrade sports fields and field houses, school districts could potentially benefit financially in the long run. The revenue taken from the addition of more seats or bleachers could be used to fund other programs in the school.

If the upgrades create less repair problems and reduce money spent on maintenance, then the district could take the money saved and spend it on upgrades in academic programs.

Until in-school problems escalate to packing 40 to 50 students to a classroom, many people will not consider paying more for academics. Taxpayers and private donors are less likely for things they know their children will not be involved in, and with a new field surface, they can see where their money is being spent.

Unfortunately, this pattern of personal benefit is on a path that ends when the school takes a severe turn for the worst.