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The Cub

The news site of Ludlow High School

The Cub

The news site of Ludlow High School

The Cub

Budget Decisions spark controversy at LHS

With limited funds, where do priorities lie?
The+town+is+investing+to+rebuild+the+LHS+athletic+field%2C+currently+under+construction.+
The town is investing to rebuild the LHS athletic field, currently under construction.

Recent budgetary decisions made by the Ludlow High School school committee have been accompanied by questions. The decision to renovate our football and track teams with a new multi million dollar athletic complex, have been assailed by critics who claim our school board is choosing to prioritize athletic prowess over its academic status. 

Amid uncertainty last year surrounding possible budget cuts at LHS that could result in the reduction of our teaching staff, one thing remained certain: The athletic facility would still be delivered.

“Budget panic like last year really points to a large issue at our school.” says LHS student and athlete Kyle Rodrigues. “How can we possibly be considering cutting teachers and sharing a librarian between two schools when we have such a large sum earmarked for a new athletic facility?” He questioned. 

Ludlow High school has in fact shared a librarian between multiple schools for the past two academic years, resulting in shorter library open hours among both schools and undoubtedly increasing the workload of our librarian. According to U.S. history teacher Mrs. Zianio, “Our librarian’s workload has doubled, Mrs. Hedin has always helped students with research projects and topics. Doubling her workload between two schools limits our access to not only the library and its resources, but our access to her expertise on important research projects.”

Potential teacher reductions and limited access to the librarian negatively impact the overall quality of a Ludlow High School education. A high-quality school system is a town’s most attractive and valuable possession. Critics of recent budgetary measures claim that if the town continues to prioritize things like athletics over investment in academics, the ability of our town to provide education to its residents will deteriorate rapidly.

Why Athletics?

Others would argue that is not fair to compare athletics with academics. The LHS athletic facilities for track and field have failed to meet the minimum standards for competition for roughly six years. The tennis courts have also suffered damage and are severely cracked. Proponents of our new soccer, football, and track facility argue that it isn’t an unnecessary expenditure blind to academic department’s needs, but a much-needed investment in our school’s most popular sports.

“Our track team is Ludlow High School’s biggest team. They deserve to have a home field like all other schools do,” argues high school track athlete Caliana Blackburn. Coach and history teacher Mrs. Zianio explains that “athletics often attract students to a school and keep them attending school.” Strong athletics are an invaluable addition to any school system and many see the new complex as a way to encourage sports and extracurriculars at LHS.

Budget decisions are not solely an issue for our teachers and education; instead, they may be better characterized as a broader issue that afflicts our entire school system, including our athletic department. To hundreds of student-athletes at Ludlow High School, the decision to build a new multi million dollar complex isn’t a snub to the cash-strapped English, history, science, and math departments. To these athletes, the decision is finally a response to the poor quality athletic fields they have been forced to deal with for years.

A School Divided

Teachers and students both agree the decision has polarized the school, forcing teachers, coaches, and students to declare our athletic complex either an insult or a necessity. But the issue at hand is anything but black and white. Our athletic complex is certainly going to benefit athletic teams forced to practice and play on poor-quality terrains, and at the same time an investment in the educational parts of our school is also needed.

Mrs Zianio offers a new perspective on the topic as both teacher, coach, and former athlete. “It is unfair to look at the funds given to athletics and declare it would be better served going to academics. We cannot allow the issue to divide us because ultimately we are facing the same problem.” 

She argues the answer isn’t to prioritize education over athletics, nor is it to ignore the challenges facing our educators and their ability to teach effectively. 

The issue remains unresolved at Ludlow, with budget issues a constant theme throughout everyone’s high school experience. Classroom sizes continue to grow as paid teachers are forced to compensate and deal with increasing large classroom sizes that limit a teacher’s time to help individual students. Even with construction underway on our new athletic facility, our gym, tennis courts, and sports offered remain behind nearby schools. 

We cannot ignore the value that investing in our school system can provide to our students. The complex, currently in construction, can finally provide Ludlow’s most popular sports teams with a home field they can be proud to compete on. This facility may signify a large step towards finally addressing the issues within our school, but much remains to be desired within our school. Financing is still needed in almost every department and team at Ludlow High school, and these issues seem no closer to being addressed.

The budget issue within our town continues to overhang our school system, each year threatening to eliminate more jobs and cut more programs. Mrs. Zianio claims “The town risks its future by failing to invest in its school, with school systems often being the most attractive reason to move in or out of a certain town.” Our town cannot continue to neglect our school system and leave both faculty and teachers forced to cope with increasingly difficult classroom and athletic conditions. 

While Ludlow High School continues to battle recurring budgetary issues, it is certain that our school has become more polarized as the battle lines for funding are drawn between academic and athletic departments. Still, our school has proven resilient, relying on the sacrifice of students and faculty to maintain academic and athletic access. However, is it fair to force sacrifice and increased workload on an already taxed school system? While the issues remain on the horizon for Ludlow, questions continue to surface about what the next disruptions will be at Ludlow High School.

 

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    Tim BrilloJun 7, 2024 at 2:19 pm

    The funds that were allocated to upgrade the athletic facilities came from the American Rescue Plan Act. (ARPA). No town funding was issued. The ARPA funds could only be used for community recreation projects.
    Hope this helps to clarify the issue.
    Mr.Brillo

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