GREENSBORO, N.C. – When wise households face substantial short-term debt, they tend to eliminate unnecessary spending, like dining out in restaurants.

The savings may not solve all of the money problems, but every penny counts.

Does the Guilford County school district operate like a wise household?

In the spring of 2017, it became clear to school officials that revenues were not keeping pace with costs, and some budget cuts were in order.

The school board approved a fiscal year 2017-18 budget that, among other things, eliminated 51 teaching assistant positions, established a $45 athletic participation fee for students, increased class sizes in grades 6-12, and closed one specialty academy, according to a news report from Greensboro.com.

While those budget cuts were being made, the school district was piling up a pretty big restaurant tab.

In fiscal 2016-17, the Guilford district spent $66,873.54 in 212 transactions at various restaurants and catering services. That averages out to about $315 per transaction, which suggests that a lot of people – employees and students – were eating pretty good at school expense.

Some definite favorites emerged from the district’s restaurant transaction list.

There were 20 transactions at Jason’s Deli for a total of $8,033.86. There were 17 purchases from Honeybaked Ham for $5,989.83. There were 18 transactions at Chick-Fil-A totaling $4,162.67, and eight purchases at Country Kitchen for $3,069.07.

Some of the individual transactions were real eye-openers.

The district spent $1,896.43 at Carter Brothers BBQ on Oct. 31, 2016. There was a tab of $1,540.46 at Apple Spice Junction on Oct. 19, 2016. The total came to $1,431.14 at Jersey Mike’s Subs on March 15, 2017. The district dropped $1,398.43 at Newk’s on Oct. 7, 2016.

Could that $66,000 spent on restaurant food have been used to offset some participation fees charged to middle school and high school athletes? Would it have been enough to retain a teacher assistant or two?

Beyond that, one has to wonder what other unnecessary expenses could be found with a close inspection of the Guilford County school budget. Government institutions tend to waste a lot of tax dollars, and public schools are government institutions.