Our Opinion

Published 12:33 pm Monday, September 18, 2006

By Staff
School vote hurts entire community
What does $1.9 million mean to your local schools? What does it mean to your child? What does it mean to your community?
That's how much money county and city schools stand to lose a year from now because voters defeated the renewal of a tax that has been on the books since the 1930s.
Last Tuesday, voters in the county chose not to renew a 3-mill district tax that benefits Escambia County Schools. They also defeated a 1-mill tax that benefits all of the schools in the county, including Brewton City Schools. The total of the taxes will impact the county schools' budget by $1.2 million. The 1-mill tax will hurt the city schools by about $70,000.
Brewton residents were the only voters who overwhelmingly approved of the renewal, voting 80 percent in favor of the 3-mill district tax.
What happened in the rest of the county? We were disgusted that voters did not stand up to support local schools, especially in a year when teachers and students have proven themselves on standardized tests and state goals.
These are the same voters who just three years ago approved a 10-mill tax increase for schools. These are the same voters who have seen headlines about the improvements in school test scores and performance - improvements that have been made possible in part by that extra tax money. These are the same voters who will likely be the first to complain about what the school system - and more important what the community - does not have.
Voters in our community have to wake up to the fact that a successful economy is tied to successful schools.
That $1.9 million means a lot to local schools - it means teacher units, better technology, new textbooks and safer buses. It means better educational opportunities for our students.
And for those of who think what happens in the school system has no effect on you if you don't have a child there, think again. That $1.9 million could be the difference in an industry locating here and bringing new jobs and new investments in our community.
We're proud that Brewton residents so overwhelmingly approved the tax renewal.
Now we need the rest of the county to realize they need to do the same thing - for our schools' sake, for our children's sake and for the community's sake.