Voting “yes” is the right thing to do
Leada Gore, Editor
In this world, Ben Franklin once said, nothing is certain but death and taxes. And for most people, the two things are about as unpleasant.
With that in mind, it’s understandable most people’s first reaction to a plan to raise Hartselle’s property tax 7.5 mills – along with a half-cent sales tax increase – was not favorable. While many people agree the money would go to a good cause, the construction of a new high school, others said they didn’t support raising taxes to fund the project.
I understand those concerns. No one, myself included, relishes the thought of more of my money being paid out in taxes. And, as someone who works for a small business, this increase hits home. The Enquirer paid $348 in property taxes last year; a 7.5 mill increase would raise that bill to $414. In a small business, it’s the small change that can make all the difference.
However, the more I looked at this issue, I came to realize there are times when a community and its members must be willing to make an investment in its schools and therefore its future.
That’s what Hartselle residents were willing to do in the early 1970s when they decided to form their own school system. Organizers knew they were taking a risk but felt it was worth the sacrifice in order to provide a better education for area students.
Now, almost 35 years later, Hartselle residents are faced with a similar decision. The sacrifice we make today will impact students for years to come. Not making that sacrifice will echo for just as long.
There are several schools of thought when it comes to Hartselle’s most-recent tax-increase plan. There are those that say we don’t need a new high school. They learned in old buildings and facilities don’t teach students anyway. “No student ever learned from a building,” they say. This train of thought is frightening. It’s amazing to me we are willing to accept sub-standard facilities in a city that prides itself on its educational facilities. Before you question the “sub-standard” label, travel around the state and visit some of the schools in communities with far less resources than Hartselle. It’s not about flash - it’s about modern labs, space for drama programs and ample classroom space for the growth we know is coming.
There are those that say they won’t support a new school as long as (fill in the blank) is around. The blank has been filled by several names, the superintendent, a particular school board member, a principal or teacher. This idea doesn’t hold water, either. The building of a new school is a major, long-range project. It’s bigger than any superintendent, school board members, principal, teacher, coach, parent or student.
Others say we need to kick out all the out-of-district students, keep our schools “Hartselle only” and this will solve what almost all agree is a space problem. On the surface, this idea seems reasonable. However, school funding is a complicated issue, one that is dictated by state and accrediting standards. According to the School Board, each out-of-district student means $4,980 per student from the state, along with $120,800 in tuition. The extra students translate into 24 teacher units. If all the out-of-district students were kicked out of the system today, the money and teacher units would go, too. This would mean fewer class offerings and larger class size for those “Hartselle only” students. Yes, we would have more room in our buildings but the quality of education we can offer would decline.
You can find lots of reasons to vote no March 11. You don’t like the location of the new school. You’re worried about the economy. You think Hartselle puts too much emphasis on sports and want to send a message.
Some reasons have validity; others don’t.
In the end, however, it comes down to this: it’s time for this community, the same one that works to support its children, the one that prides itself on its education achievements, to put its money where its mouth is.
And, as old Ben also said,”an investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
I urge you to vote “yes” March 11. It’s just the right thing to do.