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Telegram Editorial, Feb. 26, 1999

School systems need to be run more
like businesses

    County school systems are much like corporations. They employ a large number of people and they put out a product educated school children.
    We wonder, however, if all the school systems in North Central West Virginia are running as efficiently as good corporations should.
    In Harrison County, for instance, the county has 500 fewer students than it had during the 1993-94 school year. The school system, however, employs 57 more teachers and support staff than it did during the 1993-94 school year.
Harrison County is lucky enough to have voters who support the education system and have continued to pass a levy. Voters in Upshur County, where parents demanded that two elementary schools remain open, failed to pass a levy this spring.
School administrators say that a decline in enrollment, which state funding is based upon, and the frequent need to hire aides to work one-on-one with special education students have caused problems with meeting budgets.
    Harrison County will have to use more than $1.4 million from its budget this year to pay for six teachers and 17 service personnel whose salaries won't be paid by the state.
    We hate to use this term, but school systems, much like corporations, must start thinking outside the box. There has to be some more creative solutions to cutting budgets and meeting efficiencies on a yearly basis so that school systems don't suddenly find themselves in the hole.
    And school systems should not build budgets based on extra money brought in from levies these days. It's irresponsible in an environment where it's getting harder and harder to pass levies.
    School systems, especially Harrison County, should be examining cuts in administration first. We understand consolidations are sometimes needed, but they should be a second or third solution. And then, after examining all other possible solutions and finding none, consolidate.
    The public must also play a role in making school systems efficient. If people want their schools to remain open, then they should get out and lobby for the passage of these levies or accept where other cuts may have to be made.
    Nobody wants higher taxes, but everybody wants their children to go to a small school or be bussed to athletic events. In today's business environment, however, you may not be able to have your cake and eat it too.
    The most important part of our education system is the education of children. The public and school boards must work together to find ways to make this possible. School systems must stop trying to be an employer to all and the public must realize you can't always get what you want.

Today's editorial reflects the opinion of the Exponent editorial board, which includes William J. Sedivy, John G. Miller, Julie R. Cryser, James Logue, Kevin Courtney and Cecil Jarvis.



The airline industry- and why you don't buy paint at the ticket counter

    Geoff Millstone stopped by with a chuckle about an anyday event, buying paint at the hardware store or ... from an airline? Anyway, here it goes. First from the hardware store:
Customer: Hi, how much is your paint?
Clerk: We have regular quality for $12 a gallon and premium for $18. How many gallons would you like?
Customer: Five gallons of regular quality, please. Clerk: Great! That will be $60 plus tax.
Now ... buying paint from an airline:
Customer: Hi. How much is your paint?
Clerk: Well, Sir, that all depends.
Customer: Depends on what?
Clerk: Actually, a lot of things.
Customer: How about giving me an average price? Clerk: Wow, that's too hard a question. The lowest price is $9 a gallon, and we have 150 different prices up to $200 a gallon.
Customer: What's the difference in the paint? Clerk: Oh, there isn't any difference. It's all the same paint. Customer: Well, then, I'd like some of that $9 paint. Clerk: Well, first I need to ask you a few questions. When do you intend to use it?
Customer: I want to paint tomorrow, on my day off. Clerk: Sir, the paint for tomorrow is $200 paint. Customer: What?! When would I have to paint in order to get $9 paint? Clerk: That would be in three weeks, but you will also have to agree to start painting before Friday of that week and continue painting until at least Sunday.
Customer: You've got to be kidding!
Clerk: Sir, we don't kid around here. Of course, I'll have to check to see if we have any of that paint available before I can sell it to you.
Customer: What do you mean check to see if you can sell it to me? You have shelves full of that stuff. I can see it right there.
Clerk: Just because you can see it doesn't mean that we have it. It may be the same paint, but we sell only a certain number of gallons on any given weekend. Oh, and by the way, the price just went up to $12.
Customer: You mean the price went up while we were talking? Clerk: Yes, Sir. You see, we change prices and rules thousands of times a day, and since you haven't actually walked out of the store with your paint yet, we just decided to change. Unless you want the same thing to happen again, I would suggest you get on with your purchase. How many gallons do you want?
Customer: I don't know exactly. Maybe five gallons. Maybe I should buy six gallons just to make sure I have enough.
Clerk: Oh, no, Sir, you can't do that. If you buy the paint and then don't use it, you will be liable for penalties and possible confiscation of the paint you already have.
Customer: What?!
Clerk: That's right. We can sell you enough paint to do your kitchen, bathroom, hall and north bedroom, but if you stop painting before you do the other bedroom, you will be in violation of our tariffs.
Customer: But what does it matter to you whether I use all the paint? I already paid you for it!
Clerk: Sir, there's no point in getting upset. That's just the way it is. We make plans based upon the idea that you will use all the paint, and when you don't, it just causes us all sorts of problems.
Customer: This is crazy! I suppose something terrible will happen if I don't keep painting until Sunday night?
Clerk: Yes, Sir, it will.
Customer: Well, that does it! I am going somewhere else to buy paint! Clerk: That won't do you any good, Sir. We all have the same rules. You might as well just buy it here, while the price is now $13.50. And thanks for flying I mean painting with our airline.

    I received an e-mail recently from Philip Mosher of Canaan, Nova Scotia in eastern Canada. He said he is currently researching a former resident of Clarksburg by the name of Thomas H. Smith, who went missing while trying to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1939.
    "I will be flying to Clarksburg from Kentville, Nova Scotia next month to research his family," he wrote. "Among the things I am looking for are some of his descendants. I know his father's name was Harvey F. Smith and he passed away some time during the late '40s or early '50s."
    If any reader is familiar with either Thomas H. Smith or Harvey F. Smith, please contact me in writing in care of the newspaper.



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Clarksburg Publishing Company, P.O. Box 2000, Clarksburg, WV 26302 USA
Copyright Clarksburg Publishing Company 1999