There's a moment in local authority financial management when prudence stops being commendable and becomes a liability.

That’s where we’re now at in Ceredigion, where eight village primary schools face the threat of closure under a damaging plan drawn up by a county council motivated by blind panic and corporate self-interest.

If ever there was a time for cool heads and a decisive rejection of short-termism, this is it.

For this is decidedly not a considered or strategic plan from an education authority driven, as it should be, by determination to do the very best for children whose future well-being is heavily dependent on level-headed and forward-thinking by decision-makers here and now.

Instead, this is knee-jerk, scatter-brained reaction by a council in a tight spot financially. Its difficulties are real, even formidable, but the proper solution is not to go for the easiest and most obvious way out and damn the consequences. That would be a dereliction of duty and a clear infringement of provisions in Wales’s Well-being of Future Generations Act, which has at its heart children’s welfare and, very specifically, the culture they will inherit.

As parents at Llangwyryfon, one of the schools at risk, point out, closure would leave the community “more or less dead” and would be a huge setback for an area recognised as a stronghold of Welshness.

The chair of governors, Nudd Lewis, summarises their predicament with something like restrained anger.

He points out that Estyn, Wales’s education and training inspectorate, has for many years praised the school, and the Llangwyryfon community is determined to keep it open.

“We would like to be part of the county council's solution and we also want to know why the council officers believe the school is unsustainable.

“What is the evidence? There are a lot of children born in the area recently and on their way to school.”

This school is clearly not, by any measure, unsustainable. It currently has 27 pupils, with another 10 pre-school children living nearby whose families want them to go there.

What’s threatening this school and seven others are the closed minds of senior council officials and their disciples on the cabinet. Their priority is at all costs to avoid any more sleepless nights worrying about the authority’s current year funding shortfall of between £14m and £18m, this despite a crippling 11 per cent-plus increase in council tax.

The quick fix they’ve taken a liking to is the £300,000 or so they claim would be saved by shutting schools. What they will not allow their timid selves to consider is taking from the council’s reserves, which total about £39.5m.

A very modest withdrawal from these hefty balances would, by themselves, easily secure the future of these vital community institutions for a good few years, by which time it is entirely possible that things will have improved. Notably, perhaps, following long overdue sustained pressure from the Cardiff government for a beneficial reworking of the Barnett funding formula, and from, again overdue, a determination by Cardiff to gain proper benefit for Wales from the exportation of water and wind.

Alternatively, or jointly, the council could well consider debt-rescheduling of some at least of the £9m or so in total debt repayments becoming due between 2025 and 2028. Such would have the effect of reducing payment amounts by extending payment periods, pausing payments or reducing payment amounts during a given period.

The cabinet was told on 19 March there could be debt rescheduling, but there is no sign it’s pursuing the idea. It needs to. Because a failure to act boldly in defence of our small schools will jeopardise the futures of a substantial number of Ceredigion children. That should be deemed out of the question.