Job No. 1

Published 8:02 pm Friday, March 19, 2010

We don’t envy the task Board of Education members and school officials will be working on during the next few months: Coming up with a plan to make up an expected $3 million budget shortfall due to the state government’s revenue woes.

At this point, after the school system has already been forced to cut millions from the budget it was used to in better times, there are no easy ways to save money anymore.

School officials hope to save $1.2 million by the possibility of having 10 furlough days in 2010-2011, compared with six in the current school year. That’s tough on teachers.

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Another savings idea would be to keep the Bainbridge High School Marching Band and cheerleaders home when the football team goes to away games. That would be tough on students.

Another option would be to raise the school system’s millage rate, which would increase property owners’ tax bills. That would be tough on people in a county where 10 percent of the workforce is unemployed and families are still dealing with the effects of the economic recession.

So what do you do?

Surely, officials should be guided by remembering that Job No. 1 is to provide quality education to children and youth.

Secondly, that the teachers and staff who tirelessly work with students day after day help shape who they become as adults; punishing them only hurts that cause.

Now’s the time to put everything on the table for consideration, but to hold tightly to those things that have true, essential value.