By Abby Hornsby
For The Tribune
What should Trussville City Schools spend the educational budget on? It’s wonderful to have a $15 million stadium, a concert hall, and a huge performance gym, but a school system shouldn’t lose sight of the key goals: recruit the best teachers, equip students with up-to-date technology skills and prepare them to be successful upon graduation.
The most important assets of Trussville City Schools are the people, including teachers, students, administrators and the support staff. Good teachers should be paid well. In order to bring the best teachers into the organization, their compensation must be above average for the area, and in some cases, even the Southeast. Why would a teacher stay in this area when he or she could easily move to a different part of the state or country and get paid more?
The average starting salary for teachers in public schools in the state of Alabama is $36,198. This number is only slightly above what is considered the poverty level in our state. Does this number truly reflect our appreciation and value of our educators? Many people say, “Yes, but teachers get the whole summer off.” In reality this is when teachers complete their mandatory workshops, continued education and other preparations for the year to come. Many teachers pull money out of their own pockets to provide activities, rewards and much more to create a better environment for their students. Teachers are entrusted with educating the future leaders and citizens of our community. Especially elementary school teachers have a powerful influence on students, often spending more waking hours each day with students than their parents. Local school budgets should increase the teacher salary to more accurately reflect the importance of the profession.
Another area in which money should be spent is technology. In these times, technology is involved in every area of our lives. Trussville City Schools needs to train the teachers in the use of the technology and ways to use this technology with students. Students need access to various devices for research purposes. In Baldwin County, each high school student is issued an Apple MacBook complete with textbook software. Homework, assignments and papers are turned in via email and students became proficient in the use of current technology. More money should be spent purchasing computers, tablets, nooks and software to provide access for hands-on student learning in this information age.
One goal of any school system should be to prepare each student to be successful when he or she graduates. For many students the next step is college. For others it’s entering the workforce. Either way, schools should provide money for college/career readiness programs that ensure each student will be well prepared. Pre-AP, AP and dual-enrollment classes introduce students to higher level coursework, similar to what would be expected in college. Hands-on vocational training provides students with essential skills needed to obtain jobs for students choosing to go straight to the workforce. Spending more of the budget to improve these areas would increase their chances of being productive members of society as Hewitt-Trussville alums.
Trussville City Schools should spend its money on upgrades in technology and college and career readiness programs. But no technology or career program of any kind can be successful without the best teachers in place. The most important place we can spend money would be to pay teachers a salary that’s equal to the important role they play in shaping young minds.
Abby Hornsby is a junior at Hewitt-Trussville High School.