EDITORIAL: Steep Octagon budget cuts discourage staffers’ initiative

"Unfortunate Rewards"
Mohini Rye
“Unfortunate Rewards”

The Octagon, like every elective, receives a budget from the school. In 2015-16 that budget was $6,000.

This year, however, our budget was cut to $1,000.

 If you’re bad at math, I’ll save you the trouble and tell you that this is an 83-percent drop.

We were told there were cuts because of last year’s financial trouble. Head of school Lee Thomsen said the total budget was reduced by about 5 percent.

So we’d understand and not have any problems if our budget had been cut by 5 percent along with the other departments. But we cannot understand why we were cut by a jaw-dropping 83 percent.

When we questioned why our budget was cut so much, head of high school Brooke Wells explained that since we ended the 2015-16 school year securely in the black (due to our success in selling ads), we would still be able to manage this year.

How is it fair to justify the huge cut in our budget because of our organization’s success last year?

How is it fair to take away money that we raised for our organization and put that money towards the entire school?

The $11,715 that last year’s business manager Sonja Hansen raised in ads was given to the Octagon, not to the whole school. But by cutting our school-funded budget due to increased revenue, that’s essentially what happened. The Octagon is now raising money for the school, apparently.

We may be the newspaper for our school, but we’re still a student-run and primarily student-led organization.

Our ad money comes from giving up valuable space in the print edition that could be used for stories. We as students make that decision since we need money to keep our paper going.

There’s nothing wrong with the school decreasing the funds it gives to its organizations in times of financial trouble – however, these budget cuts shouldn’t be based on how much we raise independently.

We want to be a mostly independent school organization, but it’s impossible to do so when the administration further justifies the budget cut by saying that if there’s anything we can’t afford, then we can ask the administration to give it to us.

We worked so hard last year selling ads to do just the opposite of this.

The point of a budget is being free to make financial decisions.

In years past, if we wanted to buy something new, we wouldn’t ask the school – we would just sell more ads and earn the money ourselves.

But times certainly have changed – Breakthrough is looking to restart operations with a new partner, high-school enrollment has dropped significantly and our budget has been cut by 83 percent.

We now fear that any extra money we raise on our own this year will be subtracted from next year’s school-funded budget.

The Octagon doesn’t teach its staffers just writing skills; it also teaches life lessons about self-sufficiency.

We’ve learned that if you want something, you have to go out and work hard to make the money to get it.

But now we’re being taught that if we want something, instead of making our own money, we should beg our higher-ups for it.

Or maybe we should just stop selling ads altogether. Will the school then restore our budget?

We understand that cuts had to be made somewhere when the school’s budget dropped. But it’s not fair that our program was cut so drastically due to our financial success last year.

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