Letters to the Editor

Viewpoint: The cost is too great

How often have I heard the call to citizens of Paso Robles to overcome one dilemma or the other? We declare that we are the “can do” city.

We have demonstrated our concern for our youth for many years, providing support and direction through volunteerism, financial support, playing fields and numerous programs to encourage our youth to excel in many endeavors.

Paso Robles High School offers a variety of pursuits for our youth. Counted among them are a positive and thriving leadership program, a remarkable music, drama and arts program, an exemplary vocational and agricultural program and a successful athletic program. Each of these programs, not just athletics, serves our young people. Each provides an avenue for our youth to go beyond the math, science, language and social science instruction.

Each of these programs not only teaches some basic tenets of our society such as perseverance, teamwork, democracy and selflessness, but also encourages our youth to perform their best in school in order to continue to participate in the programs offered. Unfortunately, each is also threatened by the current state fiscal quagmire.

Paso Robles is faced with a decision that goes beyond the confines of the school district’s board of trustees. That body is struggling with a severe budget shortfall that threatens the very programs that encourage our young people. The issue at hand is not the small percentage of overall costs that go to the coaches, sponsors or advisers of these programs. These dedicated teachers, coaches and volunteers know that the price of cutting back these programs goes well beyond their stipends.

The costs of equipment, transportation and field and building maintenance are even meager compared to the cost paid by our students and eventually by our community. Active students, no matter in which program they participate, not only derive a great deal from the discipline and structure of the program, but also from the interaction with other youth and with caring adults. The sense of belonging, striving for a common goal and giving of oneself for others is essential to our democratic society.

Learning to understand and coexist with another culture while working toward that common goal is life changing. Learning to listen and practice in order to learn a new skill is rewarding and gives our students a positive feeling of self-worth. Involved youth are an asset to our community. Idle youth, those without a purpose, without the discipline of their music, drama, athletic, leadership, vocational, agricultural and literary pursuits pose an even greater burden on our community than the saving of a few dollars can justify.

These are our young people; they do not belong to someone else or some other community. Even if you are a member of this community without children or grandchildren, these are your youth. They are not only the future, but are the present as well. For those familiar with the results of their efforts: the concerts, plays, newspapers, fundraisers for the less fortunate and various competitions, you know of what I speak.

Paso Robles must step forward with our “can do” philosophy and find a way to continue to support, sponsor and encourage the very programs that offer so much to our young citizens. Education of the whole person is paramount. We must find a way to continue these programs as we work with the school district and state to overcome the fiscal mire that we are in at this time.

We owe our youth no less.

Ed Railsback is a former teacher, coach and principal of Paso Robles High School.