Thursday, May 30, 2024

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School board going astray chasing money for athletic trainers


Hope springs eternal that Alamance-Burlington school board members and the officials they oversee will some day prioritize academic achievement.

Alas, that seemingly fundamental purpose is rarely the focus of school board deliberations.

And nowhere was that more obvious than this week’s school board meeting as school board members meandered in and out of wanting to figure how to fund athletic trainers.

Athletic trainers.

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Do tell how much these six positions will contribute to academic excellence!

First, we’ve questioned all year long the school board’s obsession with this issue during budget season – which has now stretched into post-budget season.

At least, they finally jettisoned the athletic trainers in favor of school safety, which we would acknowledge should be toward the top of their priorities along with academics.

But whether the athletic trainers cost $402,000 annually ($67,000 for each position), or “a little over $500,000” with “equipment” included, or $1.2 million over a three-year contract, we really think the board needs to analyze whether this is an appropriate focus for a half million dollar expenditure or more.

Secondly, we agree with the legal advice the school board got: they’re not supposed to enter into contracts – such as a three-year one for athletic trainers – without having a means to ensure subsequent years will be paid for.

Third, we strongly concur with the basic accounting principle – harped on at other local governments – that ongoing expenses should not be financed by one-time pots of money.
So the idea that some school board members want to dip into their fund balance – a “rainy day” savings pot, of sorts – is especially flawed.

If the school system finances these positions (of questionable value, in the first place) from its savings account now, where’s next year’s appropriation going to come from?

Here’s another observation: why is there, now, this concentrated focus (bordering on obsession) on having these “invaluable” employees when the schools and the school system have existed for decades without them?

We don’t know that we could make up as many crazy ideas to spend money on, or ways to do so, as school officials seem to think of at practically every meeting.

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