Editorial — Good news on school district debt
Langley School District appears to have paid down its accumulated debt, well ahead of schedule.
This is good news for the students of the district, who should always be the primary focus of teachers, administrators and trustees. They need to have the best possible conditions in which to learn, and it is hard to offer that when a portion of the budget must be devoted to paying down a debt that never should have been accumulated.
The $13.5 million debt came about because of inattention to details by the board, its outside auditors and senior management. Improper accounting procedures in a number of areas caused money to be spent that shouldn’t have been, and it took some time for the whole matter to come out.
Inexplicably, the board of the day renewed the contract of the superintendent after the matter of shoddy accounting and an accumulated deficit came out. She was then let go by the next board, at the cost of a significant severance payment. Neither of these decisions was good use of taxpayers’ funds, and neither helped students.
However, things have improved substantially. The auditor general helped the district set up a repayment plan over four years, and secretary-treasurer David Green has been on top of district financials. He has received unqualified support from the board and this has led to a disciplined approach to paying down the debt.
The good news is that by September, the debt will likely not be hanging over the district’s head. Funds it receives from taxpayers can actually be used for educating students, without some being funded off to pay off the debt.
Trustees and senior administrators need to stay focused on offering the best education to students at the lowest possible cost. They should not fall temptation to reckless spending, but stick to the discipline they have shown in tackling the deficit.
Teachers and others who actually deliver services to students should be commended for making do with less and helping the district to get the debt paid off. Hopefully, they will now see the benefits of this fiscal discipline in their classrooms.
Everyone pulled together to help turn the page on a sorry chapter in Langley School District history.
Now, more than ever, it is time to focus on the students and make Langley schools the best they can possibly be.