When talking budget cuts, Pasco County school officials say they want to avoid hurting the classroom.
Talk to students, and they'll tell you they already feel the pinch. Their classrooms are more crowded. They're running out of basic supplies. Their teachers seem way stressed out.
And they don't like all the conversation about slashing more school spending.
"I just don't understand. If you're going to cut something, why is it education?" said Tanner Johnson, a Wesley Chapel High senior. "If we're not getting an education because of a matter of money, then what's the point of coming to school?"
But if the School Board must cut, students do have some advice. Among their ideas: consolidating bus routes, reducing School Board member pay and holding on to textbooks a little longer. Here are a few of their opinions:
Kira Forbes, River Ridge High senior: "Maybe possibly giving us some days off. … Teachers can just give us work over a long period of time and we can just get it done at home. … Some class days we really don't have to be in school, like before holidays they'll give us that Friday where we have to come to school. That's not really necessary."
Kevin Mangal, Wesley Chapel High junior: "Definitely it needs to show a decrease in the technological resources. At our school we have too much technology that is not being used appropriately. … With that money you can improve student resources as well as teacher resources."
Katie Van Etten, Gulf High School senior: "Making the school look nice isn't as important as things for education. I don't care if I sit in a crappy desk as long as I have textbooks."
Nicole Kirkpatrick, Mitchell High senior: "Why can't we bring our laptops to school and start taking notes on the computer? … We'll just eliminate paper in general."
Ryan Harris, River Ridge High senior: "It's just such a huge thing for the school, sports. If they start cutting it now, school morale is going to go down first. And school spirit will go down, too. … I think I would rather see things cut out of the classroom. … Extras are really important to everyone. Classes, people can make do, like, with less books."
Ted Melching, Gulf High School junior: "I don't think we should have some of the classes we have, like some of the language classes. … I think that will help improve (funding)."
Cody Kleiner, Gulf High School senior: "I wouldn't raise the costs of books or lab fees. They should continue to do all the labs they can, and I don't think (students) should have to pay more. A lot of people in this area have financial obstacles."
Madalyn Jones, River Ridge High junior: "I will agree with the four-day (school week), as far as that goes. Because we use so many buses to transport that it will save a lot of gas. However, I believe that if they're going to do it for education purposes that they need to also switch it to a block schedule and not have periods. That would help to get students to focus more."
Sarah Nobles, Wesley Chapel High sophomore: "I think they should take money away from other subjects and put it into education."
Laura Seletos, Mitchell High senior: "Maybe there are some teachers here who have reached the 30-year mark. … We were thinking about giving them incentives — with their high salaries and all that — to retire. … As a 30-year teacher you've already built up savings. They're stable. … We could at least open a new door and say this is another way to save money."