Saving money for education

County school districts in West Virginia already share the costs of many services and products, through both state and regional programs. Here in the Northern Panhandle, Regional Education Service Agency 6, based in Wheeling, provides both teaching and service specialists counties might not be able to afford on their own.

Why not lawyers, too? That question was discussed last week during a meeting of school officials from Brooke, Hancock, Marshall, Ohio and Wetzel counties. The five school districts comprise RESA 6.

Unfortunately, boards of education seem to need specialized help with the law more often than once was the case. Often, personnel issues are the cause. Substantial portions of school district budgets have to be devoted to “legal services.”

Finding some way to share that cost could save the counties substantial amounts of money. That could be used where it counts in classrooms.

Representatives from several of the local districts have expressed interest in the idea of sharing the services of an attorney. Marshall County Board of Education member Lori Kestner said officials for her district “thought this would be an excellent way for us to save money.”

Such an arrangement would have another benefit: A better service. An attorney or perhaps a law firm shared by school districts would develop more expertise in education-related matters, simply through having more experience with them.

Northern Panhandle counties, with help from RESA 6, should pursue the idea – and any others that involve shared services or bulk purchases of goods. The savings could be substantial, as RESA 6 Director Nick Zervos noted. Solely through bulk purchases of milk and bread, his agency saved local school districts about $150,000, he said.

Again, reducing costs saves taxpayers’ money – and allows schools to use it for education.