School district should have contingency fund

We are all warned to have in our personal household budgets a stash of savings for a rainy day.

These funds are to be tucked away for you to use in case of emergency – an illness, losing a job, having to take an unexpected trip.

The amount recommended may vary depending on who you ask, but any financial expert will tell you to have something put aside.

Our local governments also have such contingency funds to deal with unexpected problems that do, inevitably, crop up from time to time.

But our school district does not have such an emergency fund.

We imagine that new trustee Rob Hutchins, who brought the matter up at a school board meeting this week, will not be the only one surprised by that fact.

We were certainly dismayed to learn that the school district doesn’t even consider trying to budget for such a thing.

This regularly hamstrings their ability to deal with everything from needing a greater number of substitute teachers because of a bad flu season to needing more money to clear snow when it’s a snowy winter.

It makes far more sense to have a modest emergency fund to dip into in such an event than to try to extract the money from elsewhere in the district’s budget. We imagine it likely ends up coming out of things like building maintenance and cleaning, which in turn leads to further problems down the road.

The argument is that if the district has any kind of surplus funds they should be allocated to classrooms and direct help for students.

Past boards have not wanted to try to justify a decision that keeps money put aside when there are glaring needs to be met.

It’s a painful decision, but we think it’s past time for the board to seriously consider establishing a modest contingency fund. The fact of the matter is that there will be a rainy day. That’s just how life works. We should all plan for it so that we don’t drown when it happens.

We’re not suggesting the board starve classrooms to stockpile a gold-lined vault with tens of millions of dollars.

But putting a little bit aside is the prudent and responsible choice.

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