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Keep focus on students when considering cuts

It was good to see a large turnout in McKenzie at the first of three public forums featuring the county’s new superintendent Darren Douthitt. The biggest concern on most minds was the fate of McKenzie School. Rumors have run rampant for months – actually for years – the community school would be closing.

His assurance that it does not face immediate closure brought a sigh of relief to many.

We at the newspaper can attest to the fact McKenzie School is certainly the heart and soul of this very close-knit community. It is easy to see from talking with parents, teachers and students the loss of the school would be a tremendous blow to the morale of the town.

Douthitt assured those present much time and attention would be given to looking at programs and staffing throughout the system to determine where cuts could best be made without harming the students.

“The focus is on the students,” he said. And we agree that is where it should always be.

Before any drastic measures such as closure and consolidation of schools should be considered, we encourage the superintendent and the board to look, as Douthitt, said, “at how every single dollar is being spent” within the system.

This may mean cutting or consolidating positions at the central office, in school administration or support staff.

Please understand -we don’t like to see anyone lose their jobs. But we especially don’t want to see good, caring teachers cut simply because they don’t yet have tenure. It hurts our children.

Parents, local businesses and industries should also take a good look at how they can contribute to helping our schools during these times of proration and tight funding. Whether it is their time, their money or their expertise, almost everyone can do something to make a positive difference in public education in this county.

No matter who we are, or where our children attend school, we must recognize the importance of a good public education. Our community’s children deserve no less.