Spring Cove School District leaders are worried about losing $475,000 in federal funds if the district doesn't address a $1,200 inequity in per pupil spending between Martinsburg and Spring Cove elementary schools.
The loss of that much money - the equivalent of 7 mills of real estate taxes - should concern all school district taxpayers, including those who fear the worst results from the proposed realignment of grades in the district's two elementary schools.
Realignment - which would group the younger elementary students at one school and the older elementary students at the other - has been suggested as a way to address the spending inequity.
But the idea has never garnered enough school board support to be put into place.
During Tuesday's open forum to outline what's at risk, Super
intendent Robert Vadella discussed seven proposals that would allow the district to address the inequity and avoid the potential loss of federal funds.
The superintendent also said he would be open to other proposals.
Some in attendance accused the district administration and/or school board of having their minds made up, which the board denied.
Perhaps in response, those concerned residents should return with alternatives.
The big roadblock to realignment seems to be the fear that it will result in longer bus rides to and from school. But parents with that concern should remember that the district's two elementary schools - Martinsburg Elementary School at 415 Spring St. in Martinsburg and Spring Cove Elementary School at 137 Spring Cove Drive, Roaring Spring - are about five miles apart.
While that may be five miles too long for youngsters already enduring long bus rides, we suspect that the five miles are not too great for the majority of students.
So if the school board begins focusing on realigning grades to prevent the loss of federal funds, then perhaps alternative transportation could be arranged to cut the ride time for youngsters living the farthest from their assigned schools.
The answer to Spring Cove's dilemma, and a related concern about addressing its aging schools, lies within a discussion among administrators, board members, district employees, parents and residents willing to consider the pros and cons of all options.
We commend the district for holding Tuesday's public forum and for planning another on Tuesday at the high school. While people may bring anger, criticism and skepticism to such events, such comments provide the opportunity to hear their concerns and when appropriate, to set the record straight.
Such events also provide a forum for suggestions, which should always be welcomed.
Spring Cove has a dilemma on its hands, and leaders need to make some plans. The public forums are a good step forward in figuring out what to do.