Voting for school tax right thing

Published 10:04 pm Monday, October 20, 2003

By Staff
A survey of professional football players was conducted a few years ago. One of the questions asked was whether or not they would engage in an activity that would make them better players, but would also take years off their lives.
A surprisingly large number of the players said they would make that trade off, choosing a brighter career over a longer life. They chose to risk fizzling out down the road for the immediate benefits.
A parallel can be drawn between that mindset and the way we choose to fund our schools. For years we've looked for quick cash -- a new lottery, windfalls from lawsuits - to fund our schools, often at the expense of choosing a more sensible, stable route. Like the unlucky gambler, we're looking for the big score, and keep coming up empty.
On December 9, the voters in Escambia County will have a decision to make. Voters here will choose to either continue to gamble with the funding of our children's education, or we will make a sensible decision that will allow our school systems to keep intact the important programs, teachers and schools currently in place.
And at the risk of doing so too far in advance, I'm going to implore voters here to vote "yes" to the property tax increase.
Over the next seven or so weeks, there will be numerous rallies and stories promoting the reasons why we need the tax. But there will be opponents to the tax, saying we pay enough as it is, or that we sent a message when we voted down Amendment One. Both sides of the issue will make compelling arguments, but one need only visit a first grade classroom, and look at the bright young minds there to know that voting for our schools is the right decision.
Stephanie Walker, who heads up the Brewton City School Board, said simply that voting yes was "the most important thing a person will do this year."
However, just because the message is simple, the issue is not so cut and dried. There is a growing resentment towards governing bodies in our nation. It's not new, but it is growing. We've heard too many stories about waste in government, at all levels. And despite all the assurances to the contrary, if a person was to look closely enough at our schools' spending, they might identify one or two items that they consider wasteful. But that's going to be the case in even the leanest of businesses or organizations. Without room to grow, they will simply fade away.
The positives of voting yes far outweigh those of voting against the tax. The first and foremost being that the schools will get better if we vote yes. Given the resources, our students will flourish in an environment where they are taught by the best teachers using the best materials.
They will attend schools in the communities in which they live, rather than being bussed far away to a new campus. Students will receive the attention that they need to overcome problems they encounter with their lessons. The extracurricular activities that enrich their lives will be in place so that they can become well-rounded adults.
And it's hardly going to cost us anything to do these things.
Most families in Escambia County will pay less than $100 per year in additional taxes. Even at $100, that's just over $8 per month, per family, to shore up the two school systems and allow them to plan for a prosperous future. For less than $10 per month, we can keep schools open, football teams on the field, bands in the grandstand and qualified teachers in the classroom.
Most of us would agree that we are willing to help do "the right thing." I've never met a parent that doesn't want the best for their kids.
Voting yes on Dec. 9 does both. It is the right thing to do. And it's the best thing we can do for our children.

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