This just in from a Brookings listener: Brookings Radio reports an anonymous donor has given the Brookings School District $360,000 to offset some of the $903,000 reduction in state education aid for the coming school year. Superintendent Roger DeGroot says this donation will save from the budget axe the Brookings gifted program, the school orchestra, an elementary librarian, a middle school teacher, and a high school guidance counselor. Still getting chopped: East Central Multi-District, three custodians, a technology coordinator, and a high school teacher.

One citizen stepping forward to single-handedly save important academic programs, just as Stan Adelstein saved the best high school orchestra in the nation, deserves praise and celebration. State legislators and a governor driving public school districts to rely on private benefactors to sustain adequate education deserve scorn and rejection at the next election.

This donation is wonderful, it is civic-minded, thank you thank you thank you for it! But this donation, welcome as it is, violates the fiscal principle that supposedly guided Governor Daugaard this year in rejecting spending reserves, the principle that one-time money should not be used for ongoing expenses. Other communities not so fortunate as Brookings to have such wealthy education boosters will still have to deprive students of opportunities this year. Even in Brookings, the donation only means fewer cuts, not no cuts, and only cushions the district this year.

Public schools should not have to rely on the good graces of local donors to fulfill the state's constitutional duty to provide free and fair education.

Read and contribute to my running tally of K-12 education cuts around South Dakota.