Advertisement

School Board skips divisive budget cuts

June 06, 2002|by BOB MAGINNIS

After looking at a host of budget-cutting possibilities that would have emphasized that the Washington County Commissioners didn't give them all it asked for, the School Board has wisely decided to use a scalpel instead of an ax. It's a smart strategy that can help build a working relationship with future county boards.

It was a close call, however. Earlier this month the School Board said everything except instruction was on the table, including delaying employee salary increases and eliminating so-called non-revenue sports - measures guaranteed to be unpopular and politically explosive.

But the board instead closed its $1.3 million budget gap by combining some positions, merging others, cutting out-of-county travel expenses and not hiring a proposed $68,000-a-year security specialist.

Schools will be closed on Fridays during the summer to save on utility costs and new computer purchases for the elementary schools will be eliminated, while the secondary schools will get new computers on a case-by-case basis.

Advertisement

Cost-of-living raises for administrators were cut and those who are paid more than $70,000 a year will only get partial step raises. The final $520,000 will come from expected increases in state and federal grants.

While that last item might be overly optimistic given the state of the economy, the school system has done a good job of showing that it can adapt to present financial realities. And the School Board has successfully resisted the temptation to try to punish the commissioners for coming up with an increase of "only" $2 million.

The economy will improve and over time the school system will get more of what it asks for - provided that it can make the case that what it seeks is necessary to make this a first-class system and that what it gets is spent prudently. Tuesday's budget vote was a big step in the right direction.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|