This is the fourth in a series of articles based on a two-question survey completed by families at the Newcomerstown East, West and Middle School. The articles' purpose is to address the suggestions and statements concerning the second question of the survey -- What can we improve at our schools?

This week's first issue deals with ideas and suggestions that increased the member of staff at the schools. All of the additions would improve the academics and behaviors of the students. Suggestions included more computers and computer classes, more books for the library, shorter bus routes, aides on each bus to help bus drivers control behaviors, more gifted programs, and smaller class sizes, guidance counselor in each building and more intervention teachers. Every issue adds more money especially when you are adding personnel with salary and benefits. The other problem to find is space. Every room in East and West are currently occupied. More books are purchased for the libraries each year. Money is set aside for computers but replacing the old and nonworking equipment has priority.

Another comment that was made on several surveys was "We need to go back to basics. Schools need to be the way they used to be." I wish it were that easy. Any teacher who has been around for 20 years would agree with these statements whole heartedly. Too much has changed -- in society, in our government's participation and in funding. Thirty years ago, there were only students, teachers, and books. Levies provided a base money -- the state and federal government provided the rest with a 3-5 percent increase each year. Our technology consisted of a ditto machine, and a reel-to-reel film projector. The small computer was created and has changed our students' lives and ours forever. The Internet has opened the whole world up to them. Unfortunately, it brings the bad with all of its goodness. Encyclopedias and social studies books are outdated on the first day of publishing, but the things you can see live in Social Studies and Science on the Internet are fantastic. Now when the state government budgets expand or lose revenues, schools ended up asking for money from their district residents. The State of Ohio and Department of Education began requiring more from our students, teachers and administrators in the form of learning objectives, programs and achievement tests. In this year's goals by the governor, he wants to start adding 20 days to the school calendar while trying to change the formula for school funding.

Students in grades K-8 are being taught state required topics two years ahead of what we were taught.

At Newcomerstown, we have been fortunate to have a community that has taken care of its' students and staffs. We have four buildings that are clean and well-maintained and match up against any other schools in our area. They are open to the public and are used by our residents very much over the course of the year.

The staff, as a whole, are hardworking people who will do anything they can to help the children who attend. Are there problems? Do we make mistakes? Yes, to both. Hopefully, we take care of both too. Conflicts don't always workout for both sides.

Nothing will ever be the same as it was 30 years ago, 20 years ago or even 10 years ago. Our goal as a school is to be responsible for getting students ready for their next step in their lives and that means keeping up with what is expected from the society, the State of Ohio, and our community to prepare our students. According to the state report, we have done pretty well with an "Efficient" rating. We hold ourselves accountable to our community financially. Funding is spent sparingly but not at the expense of safety. The total number of employees has decreased over the past 10 years. We apply for grants to provide new experiences and equipment that normally can't be offered. The Administration is consistently looking at different ways to save the money votes have provided.