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It could have been worse

As we thankfully near the end of the governmental budget season — both at the state and local levels — we should take stock of what has happened during the past few months and wonder, in many cases, just how bad it could have been.

What started out with a “Doomsday Budget” prediction on the part of Suffolk Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Milton Liverman has ended with a relative whisper of good news that the city of Suffolk will provide the school system what it asked for as far as local funds are concerned.

What started out as hints of job cuts, service cuts and so forth on the city level appears to be ending with a budget that was balanced on better operational efficiencies and fiscal reorganization.

With that said, there remain plenty of questionable charitable and volunteer organization cuts that have legitimately raised eyebrows.

As it relates to education funding, this newspaper, from day one, has challenged school leaders not to cut programs, services or faculty, but, instead to find ways to become more businesslike, finding ways to operate more efficiently without impacting the final product — the education of our children.

In coming weeks, members of the class of 2010 will cross their respective stages and receive their high school diplomas. They will put to use the education they have received from our city school system.

Some will take their education challenges on to the collegiate level, while others will do their best to find a niche for themselves in a challenging workforce.

We may want to express a sigh of relief that the budgeting process is over, and that it appears to have gone much better for our city and our school system than once feared.

Still, the true test of our leaders is not the ability to balance a budget or adequately provide public services, but to advance our community farther down the path.

It is not the leaders whom we should worry about or congratulate for their work, but it is those graduating this year who will be tomorrow’s leaders and the ones to whom we hand the keys.

It is the successes they achieve and the advancements they make that will prove the ultimate test for the work our leaders have done — or not done — today.