Schools and libraries both face challenges
The state Supreme Court declares unconstitutional a 1957 law that forced the Kanawha County school board to share funding with the Kanawha County public library system.
The decision has caused a math problem, as the school board provided 40 percent of the funding for the county library system. The school board, to its credit, is willing to work with the library system to make that transition smoother.
School board members voted to continue its contribution to the library through this budget year, which ends June 30.
But what about the next budget year?
Kanawha County schools face their own budget
problems, Superintendent Ron Duerring told board members.
"I hope this board will have equal discussion about how we're going to take care of our own problems," he said. "We've not done that."
School board member Bill Raglin pointed out that school money that goes to the libraries is money that does not go to the classroom. The school system has been forgoing $250,000 a month to fund the libraries.
"If we were to commit to $3 million for next year, that's about 50 teachers. I don't know whether or not we can as a board support the full amount without making some extremely large cuts," Raglin said.
The library board faces a similar jam. A 40 percent budget cut would be huge for the library system.
But perhaps it need not be insurmountable. Just a few years ago, the school system's money represented only 34 percent of the library budget.
There are good heads on the school board and the
library board. There is every reason for confidence that they will cooperate to solve their interrelated budget problems in a way that serves the public.
That's a community asset, not a quality to be taken for granted.