The Pike County Schools Board of Education, like similar boards in the region, is facing some tough choices.
Falling enrollment, lagging funding sources and tapped dry taxpayers are just a few of the driving forces behind the need for serious consideration of any measure which affects the district’s funding.
Recently, the Pike BOE made the decision to not set the compensating tax rate — a rate which would have increased the taxes Pike County residents paid to the district, but would have only produced the same amount of revenue that the district took in the previous year.
Since not taking the compensating rate cost the district more than $900,000 in the previous year, and will cost the district more than $125,000 this year, the district will likely take in more than $1 million less than it did two years ago.
It’s a tough decision, to be sure.
Schools, like other government agencies, are making do with fewer resources than just a few years ago. And there’s very little more important than for our children to have an opportunity for a good education. The costs of not providing that are way too high.
At the same time, the members of the BOE are acknowledging the reality — it’s getting harder for the people of Pike County to absorb any higher costs on either taxes or rates they pay for essential services, such as power and water.
The only thing not going up right now is paychecks. And, that is doubly true of those on fixed incomes. For them, the rising cost of living is far outpacing what they’re bringing in.
We understand the board’s decision, even if any cut to education funding does give us reason for pause.
At the same time, when they did so, they took on an added responsibility — to ensure that a funding cut doesn’t result in a cut to the quality of education offered to all students in the Pike County Schools.
It will take creativity and commitment to be able to do the same with less and we know schools are already struggling.
We wish there was an easier solution.
And there is, but it’s going to take some time. The only thing that’s going to make these rising costs change direction is a boost to the economy in some way — whether it’s from new economic development or from a far more unlikely long-term boost to the coal industry.
Aside from that, we’re going to simply have to learn to navigate this new reality where we either accept cuts or pay more for essentials.
So much progress has been made in the Pike County Schools. We’ll definitely be watching to ensure that these decisions to keep taxes the same won’t cause harm to the education of our children. It’s that important.