Financial woes not easily solved for school systems

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 30, 2003

If you have read our paper during the last couple of months with any regularity, then you are fully aware that a prevalent issue with our stories and editorials has been the current financial crisis facing schools and school systems across Alabama.

Although the issue has been covered ad nauseam by The Star News and other newspapers in Alabama, this is a subject that needs to remain forefront in the thoughts of our state's citizens, especially with Gov. Bob Riley, state senators and other powers that be.

Many of Alabama's schools will likely have a much different look to them in terms of the composition of their staffs and also in regards to overall academic marks when the next school year rolls around, and the change will probably not be for the better.

What looms ahead for schools in this state will not be pretty, as a decrease in not only funding, but also in good quality teachers and noteworthy programs will likely translate into a much decreased caliber of education schools will be able to offer our students, and the only way this dismal turn of events can be described is that it is simply a crying shame because our boys and girls deserve better.

Although we will never make the claim that we were all dedicated students who always applied ourselves to the fullest degree, our appreciation for quality teachers and programs has grown immensely over the years,

and that probably comes from being able to write about numerous schools, teachers, students and school boards during our newspaper careers.

All three of our education systems have rich traditions, with impressive standards set by teachers and administrators in those systems.

Many school systems around the state, including the Andalusia City School System, the Opp City School System and the Covington County School System, recently fared very well in accountability report cards issued by the Alabama State Department of Education, and while the numbers make for warm and fuzzy stories for now, one has to wonder how long it will take for those numbers to begin dwindling and the efforts the schools have made in producing those high marks in numerous categories go to waste.

We have all heard about the unstable condition of the state's economy, and Gov. Riley has made promises to take whatever drastic steps necessary to at least bring that economy back to a respectable level, even if it means cuts at the expense of a quality education, one of our state's most precious commodities.

While the thought of a more financially prosperous state is very appealing to many people, it is seriously doubtful that this thought is enough to calm the fears of those teachers and staff personnel who are wondering if they will be employed by the beginning of the next school year and the frustrations of those superintendents who are basically having to present their financial woes at council meetings and civic clubs, practically put in the position to have to beg for money for their vulnerable school systems.

It is not a pretty picture for those who dedicate their lives to providing a quality education for our children and one has to wonder where to even begin in attempting to solve the numerous financial woes which will adversely affect our educational landscape.