The Liberty Board of Education recently projected a $15 million deficit in five years. Board member David Malone described the community's blase reaction to that announcement as ''disheartening.''
Perhaps the community deserves more credit than Malone and his colleagues on the school board give it credit for. Given the choice of a massive tax increase or dissolving the district, the latter might be better for all involved.
A citizens committee that will help the Liberty Board Of Education avoid a sort of bankruptcy has many cost saving strategies at its disposal - shared transportation to TCTC and private schools, an alternative to the 2-mill TCTC obligation and shared services with the township among them.
All of them combined may not be enough to save the financially distressed school district.
So, Liberty could end up in a situation similar to Midland, Pa. So financially ravaged, Midland was forced to close its high school. Midland is now home to the $23 million Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School, a public-private partnership that offers a unique, free public school education for Midland kindergarten, pre-K, eighth- through 12th-grade and soon for seventh-grade students.
There was no tax increase in Midland.
Founded in 2006, Lincoln Park is a tuition-free public charter school. It offers music, theater, dance, creative writing, media arts and art in a world-class performing arts center. Lincoln Park also provides rigorous academics that include physics, chemistry, British literature and even college-credit, tuition-free courses in advanced biology, college algebra, calculus, Spanish IV and English composition.
As for accountability, the Midland school district holds the school's charter and oversees its performance. But as the administrators point out, it's able to ''operate outside the normal educational bureaucracy that can lead to wasteful spending and a focus on administration, instead of students and families, where it belongs.''
The Liberty residents who aren't clamoring to Malone's satisfaction are thinking about something much simpler. They're thinking about the district collapsing under a massive financial burden and the state carving it into pieces absorbed by its neighbors.
Those neighbors - Girard, Hubbard and Mathews - all score well on the state report card and would provide Liberty families with quality academics, athletics and safety. It's a pretty good alternative to deeper cuts that would damage the quality of a Liberty education or a hefty tax increase that could send families and businesses away and hurt the households that remain.
We present the Midland case because it's one more possibility for a school district rapidly running out of options.