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Home arrow Opinion arrow Editorials arrow Saving a school year

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Saving a school year

For an outfit that goes through more red ink than Hallmark during the pre-Valentines Day rush, Congress seems to have little compunction about spending $10 billion.

Yet, troubled though we are about the near-absence of fiscal restraint in Washington, D.C., we’re also pragmatic.

Which means we recognize that the latest example of federal largesse — the $10 billion Edujobs bill passed last week — should benefit Baker County.

Oregon’s share of the money, which is supposed to prevent school districts from laying off teachers and principals, is estimated at $117 million. The Baker School District stands to get about $421,000, according to the state.

The District should use that money to ensure that the 2010-11 school year, which starts Aug. 30, will not end prematurely, nor will the district schedule furlough days, if the state cuts its payments to school districts.

The former happened in 2009, when the Baker School Board ended classes five days early due to declining support from the state, which supplies more than half the school district’s income.

And we’ve seen nothing that leads us to believe the state’s financial situation — and, thus, the school district’s — is likely to improve in 2010 or 2011.

But an extra $421,000, barring a disastrous state revenue forecast, should be sufficient to keep teachers and students in class clear into next June, as the schedule calls for. For perspective, the board’s decision to cut five days from the 2008-09 school year saved the district about $250,000, most of which was lopped off teachers’ and other employees’ pay.

Nobody’s predicting a second federal bailout for schools; and we don’t expect one, either.

But giving Baker students and teachers at least one more complete school year is the best way to use this one-time “gift.”

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