Over the course of two years - this year and last - the Warren County School District will have eliminated nearly 100 teaching positions, reduced curriculum and student services, curtailed funding for scholastic sports, and taken a number of other austerity steps.
If you ask members of the school board and administration why that has taken place, they will tell you the major factor has been a reduction in the state basic education subsidy and what the district pays toward teacher pensions.
If you ask them if it has the potential for harming the district's ability to provide the level of education it has in the past, they will likely repeat what may already be the common sense reply in your head: Yes.
And yet, when speaking on a radio program downstate, Gov. Tom Corbett said he was tired of taking the heat for reductions in education spending and pointed a finger at local school districts, blaming them for tax increases.
First, we'd like to remind the governor of Act 1, which prohibits school districts from raising taxes above an austere formula without first surviving a public referendum vote. Since the possibility of people voting themselves a tax increase is as probable as a catastrophic comet strike, school districts in the state, including this one, cut spending rather than go before the voters.
Corbett went on to say that the largesse in school budgets was created by federal stimulus money, which has since disappeared, the same excuse he used for last year's cuts. Searching as hard as we could, we couldn't find reference in any of our files where the Warren County School District had added nearly 100 teaching positions over the past three years, or, for that matter, a sharp increase in curriculum and student services provided by federal stimulus money.
The responses are fairly typical of an administration that is always looking for some other place to send blame or responsibility, although education seems to be a common target.