There is no doubt that services will suffer as Georgia's budget cuts continue.
But the less rational the cuts, the more we'll also suffer in the future.
Let's face it: It's possible to save money by scrimping on a building's foundation. It's out of sight and unnoticed - that is, until everything crumbles.
Now, this isn't to say that the Regional Educational Service Agency, a name that sounds like a mouthful of bureaucrats, is the foundation of our state's public education system. But it is the backbone of support for schools, especially smaller systems.
In fact, if RESA didn't exist, this time of budget constriction would demand its creation.
Here's why. The 16 regions served by RESA are an effort to seek the most possible bang for taxpayers' bucks. Our local RESA, headquartered in an old school building in Dearing, is supported by "dues" paid by 12 systems in the region and by a share of state funding.
By pooling their funds, systems are able to get training, technology and specialty education support that each school system's taxpayers otherwise would have to pay for on their own, at much higher cost.
Unfortunately, Gov. Sonny Perdue wants to cut the state's $12 million share for RESA. His spokesman defends those cuts by saying Perdue also is cutting his graduation coaches and gift cards for teachers.
Those programs, however, were pure budgetary bloat. Common sense should have kept them from being funded in the first place.
The time-tested RESA, however, represents a cost-effective method of delivering services in a way that encourages school systems to cooperate with each other rather than hunkering down to defend their own silos. It's smart money, well spent.
Drastic cuts are essential to balancing Georgia's budget. But mindless cuts, such as the RESA proposal, will hurt our state even after the economy recovers.
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