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Keeping PROs in Brooke County schools

Financial problems faced by the Brooke County school system are so severe that they fall close to the “all bets are off” category.

Because of an error in calculations regarding a property tax levy, school officials have found themselves with $3.2 million a year less than had been expected. Board of education members have eliminated stipends school employees had been told they would receive. Job cuts are on the horizon.

The fiscal crisis was a topic of discussion by Brooke County commissioners last week. Specifically, commissioners and Sheriff Larry Palmer wonder whether the school system can continue making $112,500 quarterly payments for law enforcement deputies and an officer to serve as prevention resource officers in schools.

At one time, state grants covered the cost of PROs in public schools, but that program has ended. The burden now falls entirely on local governments.

School Superintendent Jeffrey Crook has not suggested withdrawing from the PRO program. “We want to honor our commitments,” he said.

Still, that $3.2 million gap a year is going to be difficult to overcome. Saving nearly $500,000 a year by ending participation in the PRO initiative may prove appealing to school board members.

PROs have demonstrated their value — in several ways — in many area schools. Working with county commissioners, board of education members should do all in their power to continue providing them for Brooke County schools.

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