Laurels and Darts: CCS leaders shouldn't overlook top salaries

Laurels to Catawba County Schools leaders who are taking a hard look at the school system’s budget in an effort to create a fiscal plan that protects the quality of education available to students. Darts to those same leaders who seem to be overlooking some of the most out-of-balance expense line-items that are in dire need of review.
This week Catawba County Schools interim superintendent Glenn Barger revealed a proposed budget for the school system during the fiscal year ahead. As state legislators face serious budget shortfalls that will affect revenue available to county and school system coffers, this year’s budget process is among the most difficult, state, county and school leaders will ever face.
With that in mind, it is essential that school system budget planners examine every expense to ensure that the tax dollars spent are essential to young people’s education. Efficiencies must be implemented where possible, and already efforts toward that end are apparent. CCS is reconsidering implementation of a magnet program to serve students who want to pursue careers in drama and the theatre arts. By exploring cost saving measures on educational programs — such as locating this particular program within a system high school — schools leaders can limit expenses without eliminating valuable programs. Continued efforts in this direction can go a long way toward solving a looming budget crunch.
At the same time, CCS leaders would be short-sighted if they didn’t also examine the salaries of the system’s highest-paid employees.
As CCS financial planners consider a move to reduce overtime hours for teacher assistants who are also bus drivers — possibly by ending the double-duty practice — they are directly affecting the salary and the lives some of the system’s lowest wage earners, as well as the people who are on the front-lines of education. When budget planning affects these bread-and-butter positions, it is only fitting that CCS leaders also take a hard look at the highest paid positions in the school system. Administration pay cuts and staff reductions deserves serious consideration. If CCS schools are expected to tighten their belts and operate in a leaner fashion — as proposed cuts in instructional supplies, technology and support services implies —then so, too, should the system’s administration.
Simply put, teaching positions and salaries should be protected — these are the men and women responsible for delivering an education — the paychecks and positions of administrators should not.

Laurels to Wayne Dellinger who recently marked 50 years of service as a volunteer firefighter of the Newton Fire Department. A long-time Newton city council member and former mayor, Dellinger’s service to his city exemplifies a community spirit which many volunteers exhibit: people helping people.
Dellinger first joined the fire department at age 19, and since that time, there haven’t been many Newton fires or car wrecks when he wasn’t in full turn-out gear at the scene. He has also seen plenty of changes in his hometown and its fire department during his time of service, but one thing hasn’t changed: Dellinger’s commitment to serving his friends and neighbors in their time of greatest need.