The Hancock County Board of Education could have some difficult decisions coming down the road when it comes to its budget.
That's because a reported decrease in student enrollment over the last year will mean the possibility of losing $600,000 in state funding for the 2013-2014 school year.
While school officials said they hope to be able to make up the loss through staffing attrition - simply not filling positions upon retirements or resignations - there is still the possibility that will not completely fill the gap, which could easily grow in the years ahead.
Our counties have been experiencing decreasing student enrollment for quite some time, although seeing a loss of 131 students in a year is quite a jump from the changes of 10 to 20 in previous years.
It's a trend that likely will not reverse any time soon, unfortunately, and while we all hope for the best, we also have to prepare for the worst.
The growth of the pre-kindergarten program in Hancock County may help, as could the upcoming elementary school consolidation in Weirton. Going from operating three buildings to one should provide a some savings.
However, when it comes to the budget and operating the school district we're afraid all options may have to be considered eventually.
It might simply mean attrition for the time being, and we truly hope that's all that is needed.
Unfortunately, we have to remember this loss of funding is just the result of the reduction in enrollment for this year.
If the numbers continue to decrease, more money will be lost. That's when the tough choices will have to be made.