Thursday, August 11, 2022

114 West Elm Street
Graham, NC 27253
Ph: 336.228.7851

We wonder: is there any limit to school board’s appetite to spend more? Is everything really “urgent”?

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We don’t know what it is about the rarefied air at school board meetings, but school officials appear to think that all the money in the world should be intended for their whims and desires (including every new “special” program they can imagine or devise).

(Actually, at times, we’re not sure all the money in the world would be enough.)

The latest example of this annual manifestation of an uncontrollable desire to spend taxpayer dollars is this week’s decision of the school board to pass along to the county’s commissioners a budget request for a mere 9 percent increase in annual spending for the school system, with a “modest” 22 new employees.

We guess we’re all supposed to be grateful because they asked for a few less new positions than were included in the first draft. And that they cut the requested spending increase from 14 to 9 percent. Geesh, that’s supposed to be progress? An additional $4.78 million.

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So, it looks like, once again, the school board would rather have the county commissioners set the priorities for the school system – and rein in the excessive spending – since the school board was unwilling, or unable, to do so itself.

And, just by the way, do they expect us (or the commissioners) not to remember the millions they squandered over the last two years in bonus pay for employees?

For the school system, every new program, position, or expenditure is “critical”; every new idea (no matter that it had never been thought of or imagined before) is now “urgent,” deserving – yea, even requiring – immediate, full funding.

Yet we have an instinct that the commissioners will be able to resist the temptation (which the school board can seemingly never pass up) to add positions – for permanent, long-term spending – which the school system will, of course, expect the county to fund ad infinitum.

We also expect the commissioners to point out with some bemusement that the school system had already received millions and millions of dollars (something in the neighborhood of close to $80 million, last we tallied the largesse) in supplemental funding provided under the pretext from Congress of being “Covid-related.”

Like all local governments, the money just keeps on flowing from Washington, D.C. But for the school system, even an extra $78 million or more in an unexpected windfall isn’t enough. (No amount ever is.)

Nonetheless, we expect the commissioners – who, we might add have received their own millions in windfall appropriations from Washington (that they’re already tempted to spend on questionable or extraneous projects) – will suggest that ABSS use some of its own windfall dollars to finance some of the “needs” ABSS thinks are so acute and compelling.

As we’ve lamented so often, is there no one who will think of the regular, hard-working county taxpayer during budget season?

Apparently not on the school board.

Perhaps there’ll be at least three (of five) commissioners who will have more restraint.

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