The Worth County Board of Education demonstrated collective shortsightedness on an embarrassing level last week when it essentially expelled 57 students whose parents are serving our nation in the Marine Corps.
The reason? About $130,000.
That’s what the out-of-pocket expense comes to for Worth County to accept these children into the school system.
The Worth County School System’s general fund for the just completed 2012-13 school year was $25.2 million. Meanwhile, the board is once again poised to raise property taxes on Worth County property owners — which generated more than $7.7 million — for the second year in a row, this time by 8.89 percent.
Yet, out of more than $25 million, these five board members couldn’t come up with $130,000 — less than a half-percent of the spending budget — to take care of these kids whose parents are being called upon to place their lives on the line for our freedom?
Thank goodness the school systems in Dougherty and Lee County continue to open their hearts and school doors to these kids.
What this sends is a horrible message from the Worth County School System to our Marines. We’ll salute the flag. We’ll talk about how we support the military and their families. We’ll pay lip service on Veterans Day and Memorial Day. But when you need us to chip in some cash ... well, sorry. You’re on your own. It’s a slap in the face to our Marines.
Allowing the children of Marines who want to attend Worth County schools to do so is something the School Board should do just because it’s right. Falling short of that, however, School Board should at least consider the overall economic impact that Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany has on Worth County.
This base impacts the area economy to the tune of $1.4 billion. One wonders how many of those dollars find their way into the pockets of Worth County residents who are employed by the base and businesses that are here because of the base, and into the cash registers of Worth County businesses.
We guarantee that it’s more than $130,000. A great deal more.
The parents of the affected students are now having to scramble to get them enrolled in another system at the last minute. Children of Marines already have to deal with many things that other children don’t have to, so here is some added stress that was unnecessary.
If what the Worth County School Board was attempting to do was save a few bucks while creating a public relations disaster for the school system and county, it deserves congratulations. It succeeded beyond its wildest expectations.
But in the course of their cost-saving moves that will still cost property tax owners more money, perhaps they can scrimp up a few dollars for a special class — a remedial civics course for School Board members.
— The Albany Herald Editorial Board