Schools not setting good financial example

It is no wonder so many young West Virginians don’t understand how to manage money. Too often, their school administrators don’t set a good example.

And in some counties, one of the goals of personnel budgeting is to keep public school employment as high as possible – whether that improves quality or not.

State Board of Education members are monitoring finances in eight of the 55 school systems where budget deficits have become problems. In Clay, Pendleton and Webster counties, deficits have been labeled “casual.” The term for Braxton, Calhoun, Mason, Monroe and Preston counties is “critical.”

Unless those county boards of education get their fiscal houses in order, the state may step in and take over the school systems. Four counties already are under state control.

One problem in many counties is more school employees than budgets can support, commented state Department of Education Superintendent of Finance Joe Panetta. State school Superintendent James Phares added that some county boards are reluctant to reduce staffing, even if they cannot afford to maintain it.

Clearly, the state school board should mandate balanced budgets – or install leadership that will make that happen.