Proration could be inevitable

Published 11:30 am Wednesday, October 8, 2008

By Staff
Local school officials have been hearing the warnings for months, and now some state education leaders say proration is likely. But the good thing about having months of warning, said Brewton City Schools Superintendent Lynn Smith, is that schools have been able to prepare for the possibility of cuts.
The problem is economics: State trust fund revenues for education are already below expectations. Meanwhile, a reserve fund used to avoid proration was used up last year to avoid cuts. And with the economy continuing to head south, proration could be in our future.
The school system's problems aren't unlike those of all of us affected by the economic downturn. With a credit crisis affecting banks and businesses, the stock market tumbling and prices for everything going up, we're all being pinched.
But what happens with our school systems affects our future as a community and a state. Our schools are educating our future employees and leaders, and we need to make sure they are getting the best education possible.
Now is the time for all of us to support our local schools, whether that means buying some cookie dough so W.S. Neal Elementary students can help fund computers or volunteering when your child's homeroom needs a chaperone or a tutor.
We do have an option on the table in November to help avoid proration. The state is asking voters to approve an amendment that would expand the amount the state can borrow from a rainy day fund to avoid proration. The money must be paid back in six years, but it would allow school systems to avoid cuts - or at least lessen them - until the economy improves and the money can be paid back.
It's not an easy proposition, especially at a time when we've already seen the federal government bail out banks that made risky investments.
But while our two school systems are in good financial shape, many school systems in our state simply can't afford even the slightest cuts without seriously affecting the quality of education for our students.
And if you're going to gamble, betting on our students is a pretty good choice.

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