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Delivering false hope

March 13, 2014
Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

Call it wishful thinking.

For the last three years, all area schools with declining enrollments have been warned about a doomsday scenario - a day that would arrive when its district reaches a moment of "insolvency." In business, it's simply bankruptcy.

But with our schools, it is so much more. It is the inability to offer children an education they deserve. It is the empty classrooms and numerous desks.

It also is false hope.

That is what Forestville is banking on after its recent meeting where the district announced there is a $577,000 shortfall for next year. "We needed to cut out any wish list items," school business administrator Carolyn Robertson said. "We only included critical needs to put in the budget."

Each year, for small districts, those "critical needs" eat away at everything larger school districts offer. Enhanced programming. Extracurricular activities. More opportunities for learning.

When "critical needs" takes over a budget, it means the student population is suffering. After core subjects are offered, students are then left with one too many study halls. That is not financial "insolvency," it is academic "insolvency."

Forestville has few options for next year - and the future. "No matter what scenario we choose, we will still have to do three things to close the gap," Robertson said. "We will increase taxes, use our reserves and cut costs."

Those three things are what all districts need to do in order to survive.

Those still living on borrowed time, especially Forestville, Brocton and Westfield will have the same budget struggle next year.



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