With Midcoast school districts engulfed by massive cost-cutting measures, a variety of issues are surfacing, many of them back-burnered over the past decade when just a noisy few taxpayers and a pesky press were lamenting increasing school budgets.

Now it seems everyone is interested in what principals are getting paid, which sports and extracurricular programs are landing on the chopping block, and how many students are actually enrolled in which classes.

The conversations under way by school boards and budget committees are important, and for the most part, coherent and well-reasoned. We may not always agree with specific decisions — yes, reduce the school year by two days and save $55,000; no, do not cut the Mock Trial Club for the sake of saving $500; maybe try combining third and fourth grade into one class — but the deliberations are public and the public is paying attention and participating.

Now it is time to take one discussion a step further. The Region 8 Mid-Coast School of Technology in Rockland accepts students from all over the Midcoast, from Waldoboro to Lincolnville, from Vinalhaven to Washington. It is a school that has earned community respect over the past decade for its strong programs, including welding, marine trades and culinary arts, and its emphasis on applied education.

For too long, we devalued vocational education and hands-on learning and over-emphasized computer skills, preparing a generation for mind-numbing employment at call centers. The Mid-Coast School of Technology is providing a necessary educational resource and it functions well.

But some districts are questioning the formula by which they assessed payment to send students to the technology school. As enrollment diminishes in the various high schools and as education costs increase, these are not unreasonable discussions. Like 10-year business plans or 10-year municipal comprehensive plans get reviewed, it makes sense to analyze regional educational collaborations.

We encourage the Midcoast school boards to pursue a conversation about how the districts are represented on the technology school board, to discuss whether high schools are duplicating technology courses within their own facilities or enhancing career and technical education in general, and to determine whether the funding equation is something everyone can agree to.