Defeat at All Costs

It is one thing to slay the dragons of the world. It is another matter entirely to joust at windmills.

Knowing the difference between the two endeavors is what differentiates the responsible from the reckless, the rational from the unreasonable, the sound of mind from the insane.

In their recent decision to continue to throw good money after bad, the Fairfield County School Board of Trustees has, albeit not unanimously, abandoned whatever collective sense of reason they may have once possessed and instead embraced the superbly quixotic. And for no other apparent reason than their unassailable will to fight, even when the fight is lost and even if the victory would be more costly than the defeat.

Last month’s ruling by a Circuit Court judge should have been the end of the more than two-year dispute between Fairfield and Chester county schools over who foots the bill, in local tax dollars, for children  living in Mitford (Fairfield County) and attending schools in Great Falls (Chester County). The Fairfield County School Board fought what they perceived as the Good Fight. They lost. Now would be the time to go home, lick one’s wounds and regroup – and maybe think about creating an educational environment that families living in other counties will be clamoring to get into, instead of dying to get out of.

That would have been the reasonable thing to do; but then again, ‘reasonable’ has never been synonymous with the Mitford case. It would have been reasonable to have left the original agreement between the two districts in place, which would have had Fairfield write a $25,000 check every year, payable to Chester County Schools. Once Fairfield County detonated the hand grenade that dissolved that agreement, the reasonable thing to have done would have been to mediate out a compromise. But that also did not happen.

The rationale that this law, upheld by the judge, sets a precedent, opening the door for children in other parts of the county to flee to neighboring school districts, is absurd. That’s why it’s called “Special Legislation.” It is for Mitford and no one else.

Chester County Schools spends about $5,000 less than Fairfield County Schools in local money per pupil to educate their students. And that says nothing of the cost to run buses in and out of Mitford every morning and every afternoon. Essentially, the Fairfield County School District has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money, and continues to pile onto that bill with their appeal, just for the privilege of spending more money.

The windmill keeps turning; but it will never turn into a dragon.