Educational Editorial: School budget crisis

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Local school boards are in medias res with the budget process. Articles are beginning to accumulate about reductions in revenue, projected to be $176 million for Fairfax schools.

Let's look at the potential challenges. While Virginia provides about 35 percent of the funds for public education, the major investment comes from localities. These funds are driven primarily by real property taxes.

Challenge #1: It is quite likely that your home has a higher assessed value for tax purposes than the appraised value would be if you wanted to sell or refinance. Citizens are demanding that this imbalance be corrected.

Raising the tax rate is equally unacceptable where jobs have been lost and retirements devastated. Efficiencies and consolidation of services are critical. This exercise, while painful, is not all bad.

Challenge #2: Every program has an advocacy. Public officials will need to distinguish the things that are needed from those that are desired even though it might cost them the next election. While courageous, this is not all bad.

Challenge #3: In labor-intensive environments, the big bucks are in people; therefore, boards must determine if public service is a job corps or a "supply" meeting a "demand."

Challenge #4: We as citizens must determine what we truly believe that the government should do for us. I have always feared that if we continue to do things for families that they should do for themselves, we will actually teach them to abdicate their responsibility.

Perhaps it is only through times these that we are forced to determine the things of greatest value -- and that's not all bad!

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