Government has always been the rubber band which gets stretched by the contradictory demands of the public.
Ever since since the founding fathers decided to "promote the general welfare" of the governed, government has had to cope with the habit of the electorate to demand services while assuming the cost of those should be borne by the whole or at the expense of some other program which doesn't immediately benefit them. And, because the democratic model holds that government on all levels is run by popularly elected representatives, the ability of those representatives to say "no" to constituent demands for new services was lost a long time ago.
This contradictory nature of public demands and assumptions becomes more acute when government is forced to contract.
That contraction is what's happening now in government on national, state and local levels. Efforts to get the federal deficit under control are trickling down the governmental ladder to local school boards, county commissioners, city governments and local social service agencies. Those groups represent the bottom rung on the government ladder, but the level which most directly affects the lives of people.
And yet, there is one more level - the final level - of decision-makers who can either do something innovative to preserve the service or the program that benefits them most, but which is in danger of being curtailed or eliminated all together by those making the decisions at the higher levels of the ladder.
Nearly a year ago the Warren County School Board was considering significant changes to its athletic programs, including the consolidation or the elimination of some sports. After listening to complaints about the two choices, the board did the right thing and turned that decision over to those most directly affected by easing into pay-to-play. The district continued to fund - at a reduced rate - but left it up to individuals or booster groups to come up with the balance to keep individual high school athletic programs operating at full strength.
The same may be true in the coming months and years for other programs outside of the district's core curriculum.
The board and the public should be prepared for those discussions and start now to formulate ways to keep valuable programs going if there is insufficient funding to do so.