Feb 9, 2010

To Tax or Not to Tax?

There's a referendum, in my county, regarding a 1% sales tax increase to go to schools. My honest opinion is that I could go either way, but am leaning against it right now.

I work in more than a half dozen schools. I'm on the front lines and I know what crowded classrooms are like, what tight budgets are like, what electives are cut because of lack of funding.

I also know what it's like to live within my means. If I take on a huge debt, then ask someone else to bail me out because I can't make payments on it, should I expect anyone to feel sorry for my "budget crisis?"

People are struggling to keep food on the table, and you want them to pay 1% more? The local rate is already 8.5%. Another 1% will make it 9.5% sales tax on everything we buy - food, medicine, socks and underwear... and you tell me "It's only a penny." It's $75,000,000! That's not a penny! Someone's not being forthright here.

Football is the sacred cow the admins use to scare people into voting for the tax. If this tax doesn't pass, they warn, we'll cut football, and then your child who wants to get a football scholarship won't be able to, and it will cost you more money later.

What a bunch of smoke.

Football is not going to be cut - it's self supporting. (Nontenured coaches, maybe...) They have the Quarterback Club that sells tickets at the gate, Tshirts, and Concessions. They also have corporate supporters with banner ads on the football field. Cheerleaders sell ads in the programs. The band takes money for parking at the games, and have fundraisers all year. The AD & Band Director's salaries are the *only* budget items, and they're tenured.

If I thought that a 1% sales tax increase would make kids want to learn more, I'd vote for twice that. (Why did Oprah build her school in Africa, not Chicago? Because they value education there.)

If I thought that a 1% sales tax increase would make kids stop disrupting their classes, I'd vote for three times that.

Those are the kinds of changes that would make a difference on the front lines. Those changes would propel Baldwin County Education into a 21st century level of world-class learners. Those are the changes that would enable teachers to spend more time teaching, less on behavior management. Morale would improve, and people would be flocking to our school district, sending property values (and property taxes, ie: funding) with it.

That's a tax worth supporting.

What changes in education will you support today?

1 comment:

  1. Remember that all of the tourism dollars from Gulf Shores, and the out-of-county shopping dollars for Eastern Shore, Bass Pro complex, and Tanger outlets all will contribute to BCBE. Yes, we will be paying 1% more, but a ton of money will come in from out-of-county shopping/tourism.
    What will happen if we don't pass this referendum? Will they cut music and arts programs? Will more teachers (even non-tenured) lose their job? Imagine the ripple effect if this came to be. My family, for example, would lose a large chunk of their total income...I think an extra 1% spending is worth keeping our current quality of life. Most importantly - the childrens' quality of education will suffer. School staffers (nurses/janitors, etc) will be cut, thus adding more to the teachers' lists...taking focus away from the curriculum. Plus, classes will get more crowded due to teachers being laid off....we cannot gamble on voting for no tax increase. This is an investment for our children and our communities in Baldwin County.