Letter to the Editor

Published 9:40 am Wednesday, February 26, 2003

By Staff
More taxes will not fix school system
To the editor:
For the past few weeks we have been bombarded by stories about the financial crisis the public schools are facing. In these articles we are constantly reminded to think of the children and their future. As parents, my wife and I think about our child, her future and our responsibility to provide for her future everyday. It is increasingly more difficult for us to save for our child's future when more and more of our hard-earned money is taken and squandered by our government. Yet, here again our government thinks we should pay even more taxes.
There are problems in our state and local school system, but lack of money is not one of them. The first problem is that the education budget is full of pork and 87 percent of the money is earmarked for specific projects. Mobile, for example, recently passed a property tax citing they would have to cut sports programs and extracurricular activities … sound familiar? The citizens of Mobile were not made aware that the school board had millions of dollars sitting around for the construction of new schools. I am not aware if our school board is doing the same thing, because they have not provided the public an itemized budget in any of the local papers. Until they prove that every penny of their current revenue is being spent frugally and wisely we should not provide them more money to squander.
Another disheartening element of this tax increase is that Superintendent (Melvin) Powell refuses to fight the City of Atmore for money that is legitimately the school system's. If new taxes were passed, would they reach the schools or would they be commandeered by cities that have gotten themselves into financial trouble? If the school system will not fight for money that is rightfully their's, why should we give them more of our hard-earned money?
The second problem is that money will not fix the school system. Schools reflect the society in which they are located. Our teachers cannot teach hard-working students curriculum because they are too busy teaching some students basic behavior that should be taught at home. The responsibility of rearing children in far too many cases has shifted from the parents to the school system. It is not the government's job to rear children and it is not the taxpayer's job to pay for the rearing of other people's children. The most important part a child's education is the parent. If parents care about their children and their future they would get involved.
Finally, government leaders are a reflection of their community. Mayor (Howard) Shell and the (Atmore) city council have bet the farm on an industry that will not pay taxes, but they seem to be more than willing to support a new property tax that effects ordinary citizens and small businesses. Furthermore they have placed a $2.7 million debt on the citizens of Atmore while they do not have enough money to cover their regular expenditures. If this is not an example of gross irresponsibility I don't know what is. The state has the option to buy back the property for five years. Maybe pressure should be brought on Atmore officials to sell the property back to the state. Then, maybe, they will not have to take money from the schools to pay their bills.
Chris Terry