Our opinion: ‘Right-sizing’ education?

According to a survey by the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, we are not alone.

In fact, the PASBO’s report indicates that the financial distress and resulting cutbacks in curriculum and student services contemplated by the Warren County School Board puts us solidly in the majority of school districts in the state.

According to the PASBO’s survey, three quarters of the state’s school districts plan to scale back instructional programs in the coming fiscal year.

This is not to say that we believe the local school board has done everything it can to alleviate some of the pain to the educational system in the county.

However, since we are not unique, the results of the organization’s survey seem to point to a somewhat common predicament with a common source.

Class sizes are growing in half the districts surveyed, nearly a third are planning to reduce elective courses such as foreign languages, music and physical education, and about one-fifth plan to reduce or eliminate tutoring programs.

Although those percentages are generally not as high as they were in a survey conducted last year, it appears to be evidence that the general stagnation of state basic education funding that followed draconian cuts the year before are continuing to negatively impact education in the state.

House Republicans are proposing a $100 million increase in state education subsidy and say they can do it without an increase in state taxes. That will help…a little.

But, we can’t help but wince at the characterization of the previous cuts and their effect on local districts by Tim Eller, a spokesman for the Education Department, who, he said, were “right-sizing,” a common cliche used to justify the reduction of staff to boost profits in a company already in the black.

We’re all for frugality, but when the cuts undermine the education mission, then there’s nothing “right” about them.