We've said it before -- many times in fact, and more frequently as state education funding becomes tighter: Cash-strapped school districts have to prioritize.

What they absolutely must have to provide an education to our children goes at the top of the list ...

Normally, we'd add, "... wishes go at the bottom of the list."

But many school districts, at least around here, seem to have their plates full providing just the basics.

Let's save the wishful thinking for another day.

A majority on the West York school board understands that.

The board recently declined to spend up to $80,000 next year on proposed swimming programs for kindergartners and second-graders, even though some who voted no acknowledged the benefits of teaching youngsters that skill.

It was a matter of priorities.

It's the worst possible time to add a program -- particularly one that should really be a parent's responsibility

"I'd like to see the money go to keeping a teacher down the road," said board member Jeanne Herman. "We can't take on every life skill. We're working hard with reading, writing and math, and I'd rather us focus on those things that open (students') minds to educational excellence and leave the swimming to the parents."

Well said.

And it's a point Larry Hicks also makes in his column today on the Championship Academy of Distinction, a proposed charter school in York City that would focus on physical fitness.

That's a worthy goal, but it shouldn't be a charter school's sole reason for being. With education dollars so tight, no tax money should be diverted from academics to support what ought to be a parent's concern and responsibility.

Some will ask about athletics in general. They also cost money that could be better spent on education.

That's true, and some districts in York County have started charging students fees to offset the costs of sports and other extracurricular activities, as well as relying more heavily on volunteers.

Others have eliminated teams altogether; the York City School District dropped all but four this school year.

There likely will be more tough decisions for school districts in the coming years.

We're glad the West York school board had the foresight to make this one now.