Issue 31 is the proposed property tax levy for the South Western City School District. It’s a touchy issue around here. It’s a 9.7 mil proposal, which will add $297 per $100,000 of value. For me, that’s almost $1800. I can’t afford it. Add to it that this is the 3rd time in 7 months they’ve made this proposal, and you’ll see why it is going to be a rough couple of weeks.
Someone at the SW Columbus Area Homeschoolers group on Yahoo forwarded this blog entry, which is a fairly well thought-out pro-levy position.
I’ll pass on my thoughts as well. I’m voting against it. I did the last two times as well.
The board is being obstinate in its position that a property levy is the only way to fund SWCS. The district covers 11 different tax districts, and has some large businesses in the area. Why couldn’t they come up with a combined package? Why couldn’t they combine an income tax, property tax, and increased fees in the school system (including a small pay-to-play fee), to spread the burden out? In fact, the state just passed a bill that I think will allow them to tack on a sales tax as well (I’m not certain on that, but I believe it to be the case). A board member said last week that their hand are tied, and they don’t have any other way to fund the school system. But they do. They just are being short-sighted and unimaginative about it. Four other districts in central Ohio have income taxes. Did they call any of them for advice?
I attended the Choices 4 SWCS rally/meeting last week, and heard from several couples who have lived in the district for over 40 years, and have put a number of children and grandchildren through SWCS. They’re going to have to sell their houses if the levy passes, because they won’t be able to afford the increase. “But it’s only $300!” That’s per $100,000 of value. For a $200,000 house, that’s $600. “Well, if they can afford a $200,000 house, they should be able to afford another $600 in taxes.” But that house is paid for now, because they’ve owned it for 40 years. The value has gone up, but they’re on a fixed retirement income now.
Why are a majority of the positions to be cut those of teachers, and janitorial staff? Why is the district so top-heavy in administrators? Why aren’t some of the purely administrative positions being cut? SWCS is in the business of teaching. Why are they going to cut teachers? Why are they going to cut their production workers, the ones who make the product they’re selling? What layoffs are planned from district staff? Any?
Why hasn’t the board come up with a different plan? The November issue went on the ballot about 6 months out from the election, if I recall correctly. They’ve had then about a year to deal with the levy issue, and the best they can come up with is to ask us the same question we’ve already said no to twice? What have they been doing for the last year? Why didn’t they have a contingency plan in case the levy failed? Even my young children understand that if they ask me for something, and I say no them twice, they’d better come up with a different way to ask me. “Well, ask them again. They didn’t really mean no,” is not a contingency plan.
The scare tactics are more than annoying as well. The campaign chairman screaming at (Franklin) township trustees, when they rightly say they should not take a position on the levy? Trying to tell me that 21,000 students will be out on the streets unsupervised, and it’ll be my fault? I’m sorry, but I’m only the father to 6 kids who live in the district, so those are the only ones I’m directly responsible for. The parents of the other 20,994 can take care of their own. That number sounds more than a little inflated as well. Is Mr. Saxton assuming that the kindergartners will be out terrorizing the neighborhoods on their trikes and Big Wheels?
Come up with a better plan, and I will likely support it. But I can’t support something like this, that will hurt too many people.