Waynesboro: Good, expert, at being cheap

waynesboroWaynesboro is facing a school budget shortfall approaching $1.2 million in the coming fiscal year, and among the dumb things that we might have to do so we can continue to claim that we’re a fiscally-sound city, in addition to cutting programs and laying off teachers, is capping enrollment of city students at the Valley Career and Technical Center.

Penny wise, pound foolish, y’all.

Schooling isn’t just something we do because we have to. Our economic-development efforts are still only getting us jobs folding sweaters and mixing up frozen margaritas, but that’s another problem that we have to fix.

As we’re fixing that one, we need to work on the one about the kids of today ready for the jobs of tomorrow.

Which is not simply a matter of getting kids in college-prep classes.

Sure, get the kids who want to go to college, and can best reach their potential that way, on that track, and get them ready for that challenge up ahead.

For those who aren’t on the college track, we need to get those kids into VCTC.

The goal should be: every single kid who isn’t on the college track should be on the VCTC track.

Kids should be graduating high school with more than a piece of paper that says they completed 13 years of school.

Either be in a position to take the next step, college, or to have that next step be, ready to enter the workforce with trade or technology training.

It boggles the mind, then, that we’re even having to think about capping the number of kids we enroll in VCTC.

Sorry, but we actually can’t afford to do that.

We need more kids trained in the trades, trained to work tech jobs, not less.

That’s how we can attract more business and industry providing good-paying jobs to Waynesboro.

We need a trained workforce to be able to build our economy back to where it was in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, when we had thousands of jobs at DuPont and General Electric.

We won’t ever again be able to rely on one or two mega-sites to provide that kind of foundation – truth be told, it’s a good thing to spread things out, and, lucky for us, we have a lot going in our favor to use to attract the kind of small- and mid-sized business and industry that can raise the standard of living across the board for folks here.

Interstate access, for one. Proximity to major universities within a 45-minute drive. Acres of industrial and commercial space ready to be developed.

And here we are saying, sorry, but we’re going to have to leave kids on the cutting-room floor, because we want to continue to beat our chests about how good we think we are with money.

Being cheap isn’t being good with money.

It’s not even cutting off your nose to spite your face.

It’s more like cutting off a limb and bragging about how you just lost weight.

We don’t have to keep being this backwards, is the point I’m trying to make.

The pride that people here show in being this dumb about things is the hard pill to swallow.

Column by Chris Graham

 

 

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