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Library Funding Should Be Restored

For local government entities to truly be accountable to their constituents, they must be willing to admit when they make a misstep — and then work to rectify the issue. We saw that happen this past Monday when, facing rising numbers of student quarantines due to COVID-19 and a daily student absentee rate across the district of 20%, the Ohio County Board of Education reversed an earlier decision and mandated mask wearing for students and staff.

With the board showing a willingness to change course when necessary, we urge members now to revisit a decision from earlier this year and restore full funding to the Ohio County Public Library.

Board members David Croft, Molly Aderholt and Christine Carder in April agreed to strip one-third of the county school district’s annual allocation to the library to help pay for, among other things, locker rooms and lighting for sports fields. That funding cut — a total of $294,849 — represents 14% of the library’s annual operating budget.

The move was made even though the library serves as a resource for Ohio County students and their families. The board has offered little in the way of an explanation for the decision.

We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again: Libraries are magical places, particularly for young children just starting to understand the world around them. Many of the students who have excelled academically in Ohio County Schools got their start with story time and other children’s programs at the library.

It’s time for the Ohio County Board of Education to right this wrong.

At a time when student achievement is being impacted by a global pandemic, board members should not be prioritizing sports fields and locker rooms. They should be prioritizing learning. The message that continues to be sent here is that education is not the main focus of this board.

That needs to change.

We again call on board members to replenish the coffers of the Ohio County Public Library.

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