It is back to school time; time when our children are excited about the hope and future they have through their education. Yet in my 20-plus years living in Shenandoah County, I have noticed a growing element that enjoys attacking the public schools. Instead of seeing the positive contribution education adds to our society, this element only sees the dollars they cost.
I propose to them that the schools are not the problem, the schools are the answer! When the hospital recruits doctors, one of the first questions a prospective candidate asks is, "How are the schools?" When the economic development team works to recruit high tech companies that pay the wages we all seek, the first things they look at are the quality of the schools and how educated our employee base is. Finally, if we want well-trained police, fire and rescue, they are all products of our county's schools! Shenandoah County has no hope or future without quality schools and an educated work force.
Looking back 12 years, the school budget had a little growth early on, but when the economy went bad, the school budget was cut or went with no increase for a number of years. The schools have fallen behind and are only trying to catch up.
If the element in the community wants something to complain about, there is one county department that has exploded. Twelve years ago it was almost nonexistent. Today it has grown to $3.4 million, and no one seems to notice. Another department has had double digit growth.
The county has also been busy catching up with needed courts, office space and a new jail. It is now time to quit picking at and beating up the schools, and begin to catch up and adequately fund them! Today's children are tomorrow's business and community leaders. My fear is growing old in a community where the decision makers and health care workers are under-educated or unprepared!
Steve Shaffer, Woodstock