Tax Increases for Schools: The Cost of Excellence?

school tax 2

Because property values are rising, school taxes will increase unless the BoE rolls back the millage rate. They are not planning on doing so. Public hearings are required prior to any tax increases. This is what I plan to say:

There are some citizens who would oppose any tax increase. To those citizens, I would say that excellence is costly. A truly excellent school system will cost more. If you want a top notch school system, you have to be willing to pay for it. 

Others, like myself may be open to tax increases, if they had confidence that it would indeed raise substantially the quality of our schools, that is if it were stewarded well in service of the public good. I exhort you to do the hard work of building that confidence. 

For there are reasons not to trust that additional taxes will be stewarded well: 

  1. The majority of our graduates are not prepared to succeed in a 4-year college. 
  2. Our high school students are under-performing their peers across nearly all academic exams. 
  3. Our Gifted students bring in millions more in QBE earnings than what is spent on their education. 
  4. Class sizes in high schools are larger than they should be. 
  5. You’ve spent money on programs like online credit recovery that have no real educational value added, beyond enriching private companies and inflating graduation rates. 
  6. You spent $860K more than was necessary on artificial turf fields to choose a vendor favored for whatever reason by district employees. 

It feels like the tax increases are a forgone conclusion, and that these hearings are merely perfunctory public gestures, held out of legal necessity. If you go ahead with these increases by not rolling back the millage rate, I urge you not to presume upon the good will of the public, upon those who would gladly pay more in taxes if it truly helped improve the quality of education for our children. Rather, do the hard work of showing the public that our money is being well spent. 

And finally a word to the district employees. The cost of excellence is much more than financial. These problems won’t be solved simply with more money. Truly holding student to high standards and empowering them to reach these goals is much more costly in terms of time, sweat, and tears than giving credits when students haven’t learned, than giving As when students are not even proficient in the curriculum, than enabling students to progress through the system simply by making it easier to do so. When you demand more of students, they demand more of you. If we are going to give you more money, we need to know that you are willing to pay these other costs of excellence as well. 

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