Cumberland Times-News


March 3, 2014

School board can’t be trusted with fiscal matters

Ahh — the new high school is over budget. (“New high school over budget: With $6.2M shortfall, officials consider scaling back Allegany project,” Feb. 19 Times-News, Page 1A)

Is anyone surprised? The Board of Education knew the amount of money available, yet they decided they wanted a luxury school. Now they need to get back to reality by scaling back their plans to fit the available money.

The choice of Sacred Heart was always a poor one due to terrain which would require expensive grading. All along the school board has done nothing but make poor financial choices about constructing a new high school.

Before picking a site, they should have seen what the funding was going to be and then chose a site. It would have been more fiscally prudent to build at Sedgwick than Sacred Heart.

The county commissioners already told school board how much money it will get. Now it must learn to budget.

This latest display of fiscal irresponsibility means that the school board should not be allowed to have any control over finances.

Treat them as if it were in bankruptcy and get a trustee to handle the finances. That is the only way to deal with financially irresponsible agencies like the school board.

I think school consolidation is in order. Student population is declining and we don’t need two high schools.

Remember that in construction there is always a less expensive way and a more expensive way. The commissioners must choose the least expensive even if it does not match their dreams and ambitions. The project must be scaled back, of that there is no question.

(School board member Ed) Root tried to present the least palatable option as a way to whip up a furor and browbeat the commissioners into giving him more money. Ignore what he says.

He is not a person who has any sense of responsibility where money is concerned. When schools are built athletic fields are often delayed several years until money becomes available. That can happen here too.

No matter what the school board must come up with the money itself or seriously scale back the project or consider school consolidation. The school board must live within the amount of funds available and not cry and try to blackmail the commissioners or the public into giving them more money.

Let’s face it. The school board is playing at “bait and switch” when it comes to money for this school.

Judith Weller, Ph.D


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