Schools face tough financial times

Published 8:57 am Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It’s that time of year once again when city and county leaders begin to figure out how to create budgets that will adequately fund local schools while taking into account a substantial reduction in funding from the state.

Southampton County School Superintendent Charles Turner is projecting a $1.27 million total shortfall.

Last year, Southampton County went through a very difficult and contentious budget process. In the end, supervisors decided to raise property taxes and reduce funding to schools to balance the budget, a decision that benefited almost no one and disappointed pretty much everyone.

The importance of public education cannot be understated. Solutions must be found to make up funding shortfalls. The students deserve it, and the economic future of Southampton County demands it.

All this underscores the need for future economic development in Southampton County. Whether it is finding tenants for the business park at the Turner Tract, expanding existing industries, or simply making the community more desirable for future investors or residents, public education will be the cornerstone.

Certainly, county leadership cannot wave a magic wand and erase the funding deficit for public schools. But they’ve had a year to prepare since dealing with the last budget shortfall. Let’s hope they’ve been working on contingencies for this year in the interim.