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School board makes cuts; voters face choice

October 12, 2012
Gary Andersen, Lee Smith , Fairmont Sentinel

Well, the Fairmont Area School Board has done what it said it would. This week, members voted unanimously to cut student co-curricular activities for the 2013-2014 school year. Unless voters approve a referendum on Nov. 6, the high school's sports, plays, band, choir, academic teams, etc., will be gone next school year.

In addition, the elementary school will lay off those who teach art, music, phy ed, band and orchestra.

All totaled, the savings are $754,000 annually.

On Nov. 6, the district is asking voters to renew a $500 per pupil levy and add $450 to it in order to maintain the district's programs as they exist today, without the cuts. If voters reject the referendum, they also need to know that the existing $500 operating levy expires in 2014. When it does, the school will lose $1 million in annual funding. In other words, the future of the district is riding on the Nov. 6 vote. We cannot imagine and have not witnessed a more serious school funding crisis.

Public education does have issues it needs to resolve. This funding system is obviously one of them, if schools can wind up in such dire straits. There must be better alternatives. However, it's difficult to imagine a different system emerging within the next month. Lawmakers are not even in session. We don't believe the local school district should suffer in the meantime. If Fairmont is going to be a place students and their families want to live, the local schools must strive to be top-notch, not less than mediocre.

On an optimistic note, we believe locals are now getting the message on the referendum. We believe they will come to understand the need to approve it. But that will only happen if citizens help spread the word, help convince their neighbors and help get proponents to the polls.



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