Fairmont Area offers good, creative proposal

In any industry in the United States, there are a variety of responses to market conditions. Naturally occurring incentives promote efficiency and productivity, both of which bring down costs for consumers while improving the quality of products they buy. When governments intervene in markets, the natural inclinations of human beings and institutions are distorted or negated, meaning needed efficiencies are hampered or lost.

As a public policy matter, governments operate and oversee education. And not only are there public schools, with accompanying distortions, there are incentives for schools that are barely self-sustaining to keep operating, rather than look for ways to consolidate, as would happen in the private sector.

One solution to such distortions is innovation within the system. We believe Fairmont Area Schools Superintendent Joe Brown has hit upon a possibility. This week, he proposed that smaller area schools send whole secondary grades to Fairmont. The schools would pay a portion of their state aid to Fairmont, but keep the rest, allowing them, perhaps, to improve their elementary schools. Students coming to Fairmont would win – by gaining more opportunities – and the smaller districts would benefit financially.

None of this is perfect, of course. Small schools that cling to existence create huge property tax burdens and pull in normal state aid as well as special state aid that would be better spent elsewhere. But any way to shift this situation in a new direction deserves praise. So we wish Fairmont Area success on its endeavor.