Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

May 9, 2013

It’s time to take a pragmatic look at education funding

It’s budget time and once again the Allegany County Board of Education is seeking additional funding.

Our teachers say the increased funding is needed for pay raises; it is certainly their right to ask for a raise.

I have only one problem with increasing budgets at this time.

Pay that comes from the government should not be exempted from the dictates of a prevailing economy. Government is a not-for-profit undertaking.

As such, compensation packages must align with available revenues which must be parceled out to fund many and varied community needs.

Doubtless, the majority of teachers are well-educated and dedicated professionals who work very hard under frequently stressful circumstances.

But by comparison, so are the people who provide our health care. Their industry is undergoing a tumultuous period of increasing service demands and diminishing revenues.

Not unlike teachers, these professionals have seen pay freezes, increased cost sharing of their benefit packages, and reduced staffing causing heightened work loads. All the consequence of economic forces.

Realistically, government can enhance departmental funding by only two means: decrease funding to other services or raising taxes.

I would submit that none of our county service providers can reasonably tolerate a cut in funding and as a predominantly retirement community, we simply can not afford increased taxation.

It is time to move away from catch phrases such as “It’s for the children” or appealing to cliché arguments that more money for education is essential to economic development.

School board funding must be viewed pragmatically in the same light as public safety, health, and road maintenance.

As a county taxpayer, my appreciation goes to County Commissioner Mike McKay for his thoughtful stewardship of our limited resources.

Calvin Tracy

Cumberland

 

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