You need nine letters to spell andquot;privatize,andquot; but in some circles that's a four-letter word.

Critics of the practice chastise government officials for turning over to profit-obsessed private firms certain services better left to the public sector.

In some cases making sure factories don't turn our drinking-water supplies into cesspools comes to mind such criticism is warranted.

But the question of who should manage the Baker School District's school-based health clinic is not one of those cases.

The school board should shift responsibility for the clinic, which is based at Baker High School, from Baker County to the Baker Clinic, a medical office in Baker City.

The board tabled the matter last week, but is scheduled to make a decision during a special meeting Jan. 29. County commissioners endorsed the change last week.

Hiring Baker Clinic to oversee the operation will benefit students who need treatment for a sore throat or headache, or in some cases who wouldn't have access to health care without the school-based center.

The county has struggled to ensure a primary care provider works at the school clinic for the minimum of 10 hours per week that the state requires as a condition of the $50,000 grant the Department of Human Services awards each year. That grant is supposed to increase to $60,000 next year.

BHS Principal Jerry Peacock told the school board that the clinic has suffered from an andquot;inconsistencyandquot; both in primary care and nursing.

Baker Clinic, which is after all a medical business, is well-equipped to fix those problems by using personnel, supplies and services currently at the business to serve the student clinic.

In fact, the Baker Clinic's business manager, Rich McKim, said he hopes to expand the clinic's services to Baker Middle School, something that hasn't been available for the past couple years.

The board's decision seems to us a simple one.

Baker Clinic can supply better service to students, at the same cost to taxpayers.