Stay focused: Budget process should center on what’s best for students
There is going to be a lot of talk over the next few weeks about the county’s budget. Who did what and who needs what seem to be the first two issues on the agenda.
The talks stem from the county’s recent revelation of its plans for the next fiscal year’s budget numbers, which included a plan for funding the county’s schools. In a nutshell, the county school board says the money allotted is not enough, and its members and school officials want to talk about where to go from here.
The meetings between the two groups began Tuesday, and already, there is an issue that is heading to court.
The county says the school board met illegally to discuss the county budget issue and officials want a judge to weigh in on the issue.
This is the beginning of what could become a long couple of weeks, or more.
But as the talks continue and there is bound to be a whole lot more talking before this issue is resolved, there is one central issue that everyone needs to keep in mind.
There are 19,000 children who will be affected not just by the final decision itself, but how it is made.
Follow the rules and hold each other accountable — there is nothing wrong with that. If there is a violation of the law, it needs to be fixed before the talks can continue. Both groups need to abide by the regulations that govern this sort of negotiation. That is only fair.
But there are larger issues here, too.
This county doesn’t need a protracted budget fight. There is a question at hand, and it is time for both boards to put their cards on the table and to move to a solution that takes the best interests of the county and schools into consideration.
This is a chance to set aside some of the past disagreements between the two boards and to show this community that it is possible for their members to work together to make decisions that are in the best interest of everyone involved. At least, as much as such an agreement is possible.
Now, in the early stages of the debate, is the time to set the tone.
Published in Editorials on July 6, 2005 11:40 AM