Despite some criticism and hesitance, the Lawrence school board voted Tuesday to pay its annual dues to belong to the Kansas Association of School Boards.
Dues notices sent out this year included hefty increases -- 82 percent for Lawrence -- to allow KASB to pay off the building it purchased to house its Topeka headquarters last year. The local board surely isn't the only one across the state questioning whether to pay the inflated dues and continue an association with KASB.
Some Lawrence board members visited the new KASB offices and questioned the size and plushness of the building. They considered not paying the dues, and in fact, some members voted against it. In the end, however, the board decided the services provided by KASB were too important to drop.
There is a case to be made either for retaining or dropping membership. The KASB apparently overspent its budget without adequately informing its members of how much their dues would be raised to cover the cost. But it's also true that the lobbying efforts and the networking that go on through KASB are important to school boards across the state.
Local school boards need to make sure they, and the taxpayers who support them, are getting their money's worth from KASB. The organization is an important lobbying group, but that doesn't give it the right to blackmail school districts into supplying it with offices that are beyond what's reasonable. KASB, like any group supported by taxpayer money, needs to be held accountable for its expenditures.
The Lawrence board has decided to string along with KASB for now, but that doesn't necessarily mean they need to hang on for the entire three years of inflated membership dues KASB estimates it will take to pay of the mortgage on the new building. At the very least, Lawrence and every other KASB member board owe it to their taxpaying patrons to put red-lettered notes in their long-range files to make sure that when that three years are up, the dues go down.