OUR VIEW: School supplies before law firms

The Culpeper County School Board can expect to spend from $10,000 to $12,000 on legal advice over whether or not to start its meetings with a prayer.

They have already needlessly spent around $8,000 for legal advice from an out-of-town law firm for a 12-page report stating even a well-crafted policy “might very well provoke a legal challenge and the outcome of such a challenge in federal courts of Virginia is unknown…”

Eight grand for that?

As we wrote in an earlier editorial, we are not against prayer. We simply think the school system’s resources and times can be better allocated then taking up this issue. If the board green lights an opening prayer, we predict a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the board’s decision. To fight that lawsuit, we can expect tens of thousands of our tax dollars being spent on out-of-town law firms and not the classroom.

Culpeper County has a lower on-time graduation rate than Virginia’s average, our dropout rate is higher than the state’s average and teacher and administrators are fleeing to neighboring counties to make ends meet financially.

Teachers in Culpeper County makes thousands of dollars less annually than their contemporaries in some neighboring counties, yet they still use their own money to purchase school supplies, because administrators say funds aren’t available in a tight budget.

So off to WalMart.com we went to figure just how much school supplies teachers could purchase for $8,000.

They could purchase 3,018 packs of 24 count pencils, or a total of 72,452. That is eight pencils per student, with plenty left over to administrators to use.

Eight grand would buy 28,402 pens at $6.76 for a pack of 24.

Teachers could purchase 4,324 single subject, 70-sheet notebooks. That’s a lot of note taking there.

What is school without art? Eight thousand dollars would purchase 12,000 glue sticks at $2 for a pack of three. Can’t have glue sticks without construction paper. At $14.99 for a pack of 500 sheets, students could express their artistic side on more than a quarter million sheets. To be precise, it would purchase 266,844 colorful sheets.

You must have crayons to draw on all that construction paper. A 24-box of crayons goes for $2.47, meaning the system could purchase 3,238 boxes for the elementary schools.

Let’s move on to the big items. What the board spent on legal advice so far could purchase 77 graphic calculators for those upper-level math classes. A financial burden too many families at around $103 per device.

We found HP laptops for $279 each. With $8,000 the school system could create a nice computer lab with 28 new name-brand laptops.

That is just school supplies. Think how far $8,000 would go towards teacher training. How many books or magazine subscriptions $8,000 would add to libraries or the number of school lunch debts it would erase?

Our tax dollars should go towards giving our students the best education possible, not obvious legal advice on a non-issue to an out-of-town law firm.

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