Raising taxes doesn't mean raising scores

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The education program exists to support student achievement.

The local board (school board) represents the community by making sure tax dollars are effectively and efficiently used on behalf of students.

Our superintendent, Ron Livingood, has recommended the property tax rate to be raised the full 4 percent as allowed by law.

As a board member with two and a half years in, I’m against raising taxes.

There was an across-the-board raise for all employees, including the superintendent, who now makes $118,095.63. 

Our 2014 draft budget is $22,947,282, of which, about 82 percent is paid out in administrative, certified and classified personnel. That leaves 12 percent for everything else, such as building upkeep, transportation, school supplies, utilities, travel expenses, textbooks, debt service, etc.

We have four principals at the high school, along with five secretaries and an attendance clerk, a bookkeeper, three guidance counselors, one librarian and one curriculum specialist.

This year, so far, there are 3,824 students enrolled district-wide.

The old argument we hear all the time is about how Grant County actually has a lower tax rate than surrounding counties and we should raise them to be more in line.

Well, here is an example of why doing what everyone else does, means nothing.

We receive $9,062 from federal, state and local revenue. And our students are rated, from the state, as “needing improvement” with a score of 53.4. The local amount raised was $2,243 per student.

Gallatin County receives $11, 057 from federal, state and local revenue and their score from the state assessments is 49.4, also “needing improvement.” The local amount raised was $3,775. Their tax rate is higher than ours.

The school spent a lot of money preparing for the ACT tests. We just got the results and they are disappointing.

So, spending more does not necessarily mean we will get better scores.

I believe the superintendents (three, with two main) should show us more effort to cut the budget instead of always looking to raise taxes on already overburdened citizens.

The public needs to show up at the tax hearing, at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 5 at the board office on Arnie Risen Blvd., to support us and look your representatives in the eye and have them explain why the money is needed.


(Charlotte Schmidt is a member of the Grant County Board of Education representing Distrcit 2.)