News that the Cullman City Schools system officials are projecting a near-even budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, with more than three months operating reserve is good news.
Considering the condition of state funding for public education, Cullman schools should be able to continue operating what has become an outstanding education program for local students.
Sadly, the Cullman County school system will continue to face financial difficult, although officials have been working tirelessly to make ends meet. Certainly, they are doing everything possible to reduce costs and make available funds work for the good of students.
Nonetheless, the situation raises again the need to call for school officials and county commissioners to address the local tax base. County schools clearly need greater local tax support.
A local tax proposal was defeated in the last election. But that’s no reason to drop the issue.
Critics may argue against more taxes because of the rising tide against government spending. But not all taxation is bad. Local taxes can be closely monitored to insure that the money is used wisely and produces results for the public.
Throwing money at a problem is not always a solution. Nevertheless, county school officials have cut to the point that little or nothing is left to trim. And the point that should be considered is the importance of county schools to young people throughout the area.
Commissioners and school officials should look at financial projections for a half-cent or one-cent sales tax. The tax should be put into place for a set period of time, perhaps two years to allow the school board time to solve financial problems and enhance educational opportunities for students. At the end of that period, the progress of the school system could be evaluated and a decision made to keep or eliminate the tax.
No one is particularly fond of adding taxes in this age, but in this case the money would directly help a struggling school system that is valuable to thousands of residents. This should not be a political matter for commissioners. Funding for local schools is a crisis and should be addressed with care and urgency.