On Monday, the front page of the Clinton Herald had a story about the Clinton School District’s need to slash more than $400,000 from its operating budget to stop the practice of spending away the reserve fund.

On Tuesday, the front page of the Clinton Herald had a story about the Clinton School District awarding a $12.2 million contract for construction of the new north-end elementary school.

If you can’t reconcile those two stories in your brain, you’re not alone.

The short answer to this riddle is as follows: The money for the new schools comes from the voter-approved one-cent local option sales tax. That money must be used to build schools and can’t be funneled into the education fund.

The long answer is far more complicated. We try, and will continue to try, to do our best to explain the complicated web of school funding options, from where property tax dollars go to how the Instructional Support and Physical Plant and Equipment levies are calculated to the state’s allowable growth and per student funding formulas work.

But if you don’t take our word for it, there are other options. The best thing to do is contact the people elected to run the school district. Don’t just read a few sentences and shut off your brain. Get involved — understand why what is happening is going down the way it is.

Some people are very good at taking the time to process the information, others just assume everyone is crooked and don’t bother to investigate. In order for progressive discussions to take place, the public must be aware of the rules the district and school board must play by.

We’ve seen too many well-intentioned people offer cost-cutting suggestions that don’t make sense because the law wouldn’t allow them. We’ve also seen too many who don’t seem to care at all.

Communication could solve many of these issues. If you feel the powers that be aren’t giving you enough, go to them and ask for answers.

Here’s a list of the current elected members of the Clinton School Board and how to get a hold of them. Hopefully if enough correct information gets out, the community will be able to grasp the realities of the fiscal situations it finds itself in the middle of.

• President James Tuisl, 1543 12th Ave. North, 242-5211, jimtinsgroup@mcleodusa.net.

• Vice-president Debra Olsen, 3 Curtis Circle, 242-8508, debraolsen@mchsi.com.

• James Bruhn, 131 Whispering Pines, 242-7302, jbruhn@mccleodusa.net.

• Dave Frett, 242 29th Ave. North, 242-4280, dfrett@iowatelecom.net.

• Donald G. Flory, M.D., 900 N. Fourth Street, 243-4247, dcaravan@mchsi.com.

• Bruce Ingham, 203 Cragmor Drive, 242-8728, bruce.a.ingham@earthlink.net.

• Wendy Krajnovich, 1410 Becknan Lane, 242-4298, krajrnw@sanasys.com.

Knowledge is power. Seek it out.