UL Schools

THE BELLAIRE Local School District has been the local poster boy for a financially ailing school district.

Bellaire has been digging out of a $3 million hole for more than a year, resulting it being placed in “fiscal emergency” and being placed under state supervision. The district has made massive cuts, cleaned up a costly food services program, welcomed a new treasurer and is again pushing for levy support.

The Big Reds’ Nation, unfortunately, may have some company.

Thursday’s Union local Board of Education meeting revealed some disturbing figures for the western Belmont County school district.

The Union Local board recently rejected a Pay to Participate program. It would have eased the burden of paying supplemental contracts. It would have pumped needed funds into the district coffers, but may have taken a toll on Jet athletic programs.

Staff cuts and changes were noted for the 2010-11 and 2011-2012 school years during Thursday’s meeting.

Thirteen vacancies were not replaced, the maintenance and food service manager programs were combined and two positions had hours reduced.

Those numbers either indicate that Union Local’s staff featured fat or now the district will be stretched thin. We believe the second is more accurate.

Just as disturbing is that some worthwhile academic programs have either been eliminated or are on the endangered list. Also, a part-time librarian was employed Thursday or students would have been possibly been shut out of the vital services a school library provides.

The board also was dealt even more bad news. The projected year-end deficit is now $300,000, instead of the expected $180,000.

It all adds up to a hemorrhaging financial mess at Union Local. District officials are now dealing with an ever-increasing tough task of balancing the budget.

We challenge the board of education to make ends meet without further damaging the district’s academic framework.