Friday, September 26, 2008

Students Suffer When Schools Lack Funds

Schools across the state have had to look for ways to tighten their belts due to the higher cost of energy. Prices across the board rose in the past year and schools depend in many ways upon fuel to function properly.

Preston County limited each sport to a single bus trip. Parents must figure out how to get their children to the games themselves. This means car trips to places such as Lewis County and Elkins for families that cannot afford to fill their own gas tanks. In Grant County, athletic costs have risen to the point that Petersburg High School's athletic department can no longer share funds with the band. Away game and competition performances could be in jeopardy.

Right now the costs have hit athletics first. Most consider this a "luxury" item anyway, but few parts of modern schools teach real life lessons about hard work and sacrifice in quite the same way as extracurricular activities. Sports, band, chorus, and other activities teach about the real world and are sometimes a better learning experience than the classroom. Field trips, already limited, could be phased out across the state. Too many children never get the chance to travel and learn first hand about other places except from these trips.

First the school system must halt all consolidation. Bigger schools with bigger fuel bills that require more bus runs to supply them are no longer something our state can afford. Put money into maintaining the small schools where they still exist. Also administrative cuts must be made where possible. Students have taken enough hits. Finally, salary increases ought to be looked at in terms of how they will affect the scarcity of current resources. If they cannot be afforded, then they should be deferred. Any educational retreats ought to be cancelled and money put into student needs and activities.

Students seem to take a backseat in most budgetary decisions. It is time to put them first when making budget decisions.

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