The school board and your taxes

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By The Staff

I just read the April 26 editorial regarding last year's attempt to raise taxes for school renovation and repair. Your paper stated people should have solid reasons for opposing the referendum. No new taxes is reason enough, but there are others.  Your article also stated no one openly opposed the referendum. I opposed it in writing in this paper. Incidentally, my article received many supporting comments.  This year, 55 percent of my property tax bill is for school funding. The school tax increased 23.35 percent from 2009 to 2010. Given the current economic conditions, can you imagine asking for a 23-percent increase? Jobs being lost by the millions. Home values plummeting. People worried about just surviving and the school board wants a 23.35 percent increase in their funding. Now, compound this insult with a probable second attempt at passing the referendum this fall. The state capped property taxes by law for good reason. The tax burden is breaking the back of the citizenry.  The school board may try again this fall to do an end run around the law by asking you to vote yes on this referendum so they can raise your taxes anyway.  Taxpayer refusal to give the school board more money last year forced them to re-evaluate their budget priorities and cut costs. I thank the school board and the public for their actions.  I am not anti-education. To the contrary, I feel our students must work smarter, harder and faster to keep pace with the rest of the world. They can only do this if the educators are working smarter, harder and faster. The current system is inadequate. There are more efficient and cost-effective ways to teach.  In my previous letter I stated my opinion about Web-based learning. That should be a priority instead of dumping more tax dollars into 19th century buildings. Secondary students can be educated at home via the Web, saving huge tax dollars in building upkeep and staffing. However, I readily admit most people are not prepared to make such a dramatic leap.  Other states are moving to Web-based learning at the secondary level. We should be doing the same. The student can be taught better and cheaper, utilizing the best teachers from any place in the world. You can see why some would be opposed to this idea. It threatens local jobs and would demand that all teachers produce or perish. Students get the Web-based learning concept. Adults are the problem.  If all of this is too radical, then here is another proposal. Build a new school outside the city. Name it "Southern Perry High School." Shut down Cannelton and move their students to the new school. I doubt they would object as long as they weren't forced to attend Tell City High School, and were given a fresh start at a neutral location. This could only be a win- win for both schools. The local taxpayers would buy into this plan if it was done on a cost-effective basis. Yet another idea. Given the declining enrollment at TCHS, why not close the existing building and move everyone to the new elementary school? Modify that campus to accommodate kindergarten through 12.  As taxpayers, we must remain vigilant to prevent this school board from using any device to raise our taxes. Let's insist they get in step with the rest of us in this depressed economy and do more with less.  The fall election will be here soon enough. Stay abreast of the issues and hold onto your pocketbook.  Remember, taxpayer first - now and forever.

Swaney lives in Tell City.