06/03/06 — A time crunch: School solutions remain elusive as budget deadline nears

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A time crunch: School solutions remain elusive as budget deadline nears

More talk; more hand-wringing; and, still, county leaders are no closer to a resolution to the question of how much money Wayne County needs to provide for its schools.

Now, on a positive note, it seems that there might be more talking and maybe even a meeting of the minds in the works.

County Manager Lee Smith said last week that he and Dr. Steven Taylor, the school district’s superintendent, have already met to begin to discuss the issue.

And both the commissioners and the school board pledge to be ready, willing and able to commit whatever time is necessary to get the issue resolved in time to create a workable budget.

But if you expected to see a resolution to the school facilities funding question a couple of weeks after the report came back from the consultant hired to analyze fund availability vs. school building needs, forget it.

It took that long just to get through the report and to try to figure out what the findings really mean.

The county commissioners seem to understand that there is a deadline approaching. After all, July 1 is looming, and that is the date the county is supposed to have its budget completed.

So, since it is June 4 already, that means there is a serious need to get on with the negotiating and compromising and to come up with a spending plan.

And that might mean giving up on a few preconceived notions, and looking really hard at what this county needs now and in the future when it comes to its schools.

There have been some comments made that suggest that some people don’t seem to get the problems that schools face these days. The reluctance to keep this county’s teacher supplement competitive is just one of those odd little stumbling blocks.

So, now that the numbers are in, it is time to get serious about what our priorities will be as a community as we head into the final leg of budget negotiations.

While no one wants to pay more taxes, it is important to consider that making the right move for the future of this county could require us to invest a little bit more into its infrastructure — and that includes schools.

That could mean cutting back a bit, while providing money in the form of a bond to build the schools our students need now and will need in the future.

This county needs its commissioners and school leaders to join forces to provide advice on what would be the best move now — and to tell us what we need to hear with regard to the future. After all, that is what real leaders are supposed to do.

And that requires a little less talk and hand-wringing — and a little more action.

We will see what the next few weeks bring.

Published in Editorials on June 3, 2006 11:23 PM