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Monday, June 3, 2013

Vote YES on June 25th

Want hundreds of people to agree with you? Easy. 

All you need to say is “I hate tax increases.”

Want to get people fired up? Simple. 

Tell them how much elected officials waste taxpayers' hard-earned money on unneeded pet projects and programs.

Several months ago I found myself sitting in Superintendent Ken Adam’s office. (The school district’s office is far from impressive. It is a refurbished 1960s rambler…reflective of the conservative nature of the community. The board meetings are held in the area that was once the garage, where the only a/c is an open window.)

While chatting with Mr. Adams, he told me about the upcoming voted local levy election. I had been aware of the financial issues the school district was facing because of conversations I’d had with teachers and my daughter's own over-crowded classroom. However, I was unaware of the extent of the district’s financial woes until I met personally with Mr. Adams.

In March/April, I attended three different meetings where Mr. Adams presented information about the levy. I listened to opposing points of view at those meetings. I spent an hour in Business Manager D’Lynn Poll’s office asking questions about budget allocations…and sent her dozens of follow-up emails. 

I contacted a co-worker who lives in St George and has served on the Washington School Board for the past nine years...we spent an hour speaking specifically about the levy in his community. 

I printed out every page of the opposition’s anti-levy website, went through the text point-by-point, and outlined their concerns. 

I communicated with local and state school board members. I talked to local administrators, teachers, neighbors and friends. I discussed the matter with members of the county council and the chamber of commerce. 

And finally, last week, I attended the town hall meeting sponsored by the opposition group to learn more about their solutions to provide needed financing for our children’s education.

I’ve done my homework…and that’s why I’m not drinking the anti-levy Kool-Aid.

For me, this issue isn’t about a small tax increase (my property taxes will increase less than $100/annually with the proposed rate). 

It’s not about whether or not I agree with every budget decision made by the board (which is approved and audited by the state board of education). 

And it certainly isn’t about the war of words on community Facebook pages (taking the phrase "stirring the pot" to levels I didn't realize existed in Morgan).

Rather, this issue is about providing much needed funding for our schools. It’s about reducing class sizes and providing basic resources to run effective classrooms. It's about supporting teachers. It’s about our kids.

Yes, most organizations can find ways to operate more efficiently, and the Morgan County School District is likely no different. But finding small pockets of dollars here and there, including community fundraising events, will not provide the significant, consistent source of funds needed.

Is the levy the ideal plan to fund our schools?  "Ideal"…no. But, I believe it is our most viable option to address the immediate financial challenges faced by our schools.  

If it passes will my taxes increase? Yes…about $100 per year.

Do I like tax increases? No.

Do I understand that 100% of a minor tax increase will go directly to classroom instruction? Yes.

Is it worth it? That remains to be seen. I’m voting for it and I'll hold the school board and administration accountable in their stewardship.

Do I trust the intentions and believe in the integrity of our school board and administration? Yes.

The reasons why Ryan and I will be voting for the levy can be found on the website www.ForMorganKids.com. I encourage you to take a few minutes and review the FAQ section. The content has been researched extensively to be as accurate and educational as possible. No drama.

Finally, visit the Supporters page. You’ll likely find a friend or neighbor on the list. If so, ask them why they support the levy. I’ll bet you a cookie it isn’t because they enjoy paying higher taxes. Rather, they understand the greater good that comes from investing a little more money in the children who live in our community. 

1 comment:

Wynette Johnson said...

Mountain Green Elementary had 33-34 students in each 5th grade class this year. We have an army of volunteers helping in the school. But we need to be able to hire more teachers. I'm convinced the District has maxed out the cuts they can do. No one has a crystal ball thus the flexible rate for the Levy.

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