Sunday, January 13, 2008

Should Schools be Granted Power to Raise Our Taxes? They're Trying!

This should scare the hell out of you if you're a taxpayer!

There's some exploratory bills floating around Richmond right now testing the waters for whether or not the concept of giving counties the option of letting their school boards directly raise your taxes is a good idea or not!

I say 'raise' your taxes because I've never heard of a school board asking for LESS money- EVER, and they tend to be run by extreme liberals when it comes to funding themselves who always cry foul when someone asks for an explanation or disagrees that money is always the answer.

How many times have you heard school board and superintendents say, "We'll have overcrowding and have to fire teachers if we don't get this year's RAISE in budget. Please don't cut our 'funding' and don't cut off the children's 'education'?" What ever happened to living within our means? Balancing the budget? Being accountable? Having reward based on contribution and results? One never needs that with a school board fund! SOLs, SATs, AYP, and other benchmarks are rarely improved, yet the budget doesn't just 'creep' upward every year- it SKYROCKETS!

Email your congressman and senator RIGHT NOW and tell him/her you think this is a BAD IDEA.

Having said that- I'll readily endorse a bill that ties results, success and achievement to funding public schools... but that wouldn't fly with the "Marxists" who manage education spending, would it? The kind of elitist pirates who make $240,000 per year 'helping the children' as upper-management would never let that fly- they would have to justify their salaries too much!

Spotsylvania school board Chairman Don Holmes thinks it's a good idea that he and his 6 other board members (who all operate under the thumb of Superintendent Jerry Hill instead of vice-versa) should have the power to tax us directly instead of having to get their money from the Board of Supervisors like all the other departments.

Recently elected Lee Hill Supervisor Gary Skinner agrees. Skinner just moved up from the School Board so his perspective is still tainted. He hasn't yet had to answer to deputies' request for rain gear, ambulance driver's need for snow tires, water department's need for a new pump, and so on. We should all be VERY WATCHFUL of Skinner as he votes on discretionary spending and school-related expenses. He never once voted "no" on an expense or budget request while on the school board.

That is not leadership, it's rubber-stamping. He's in for a rough few meetings if he thinks the same games are played at the county-level. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that he recognizes that he's a supervisor now instead of a Hill-puppet. Time will reveal his true intentions, and the voting record will reflect his loyalties as it does equally for everyone.

True- the SB does operate autonomously in most every other way, such as having elections to choose your representative for example (you could vote out a heavy-spender), having its own staff, and its own inner-departments like maintenance, HR, procurement, construction and transportation to name a few. None of them answer to anyone higher than the school board.

But- the current board, and its NON-elected superintendent have proven for about a decade just how spend-happy an organization can be! They request between 15% and 20+% EACH YEAR of more cash. They call it 'education' money, but a VERY disproportionate amount stays in the headquarters to buy toys for the executives, and the rest trickles down to teacher's salaries and items for inside the actual classroom last.

The BOS has to carefully weigh in all the OTHER expenses we must pay as taxpayers and then have the difficult job of balancing cash between all the other needs (water, police, fire, planning, roads, tourism, etc). They have managed to keep our taxes at a reasonable level and still find about 9% MORE PER YEAR for the school system

Had the school board been able to write BLANK CHECKS for the past decade, your current house taxes would be about $6,500 instead of the average $2,600 now. Think about it- when has the system ever asked for LESS? Their current operating budget has doubled in just 10 years and now tops $322,000,000.00!

Giving ANY school system they power to raise its own taxes is a BAD IDEA.

Yes, an AWAKE taxpayer base would keep a sharp eye out on those they elect to spend their money, but let's face it- Spotsylvanians are NOT active as a majority in any level of local government. I say that based on voter turnout, public forums turnout, and programs/committees that ask for volunteers and get none, and so on. Those who do serve, do the work of dozens of their neighbors who should be helping out. Thus, there would not likely be a watchdog group who would TRULY be looking out for the taxpayers in general.

Case and point is the school board's budget advisory committee. YES, it's made up of about 50 people from all walks of life which is GREAT. However, if the supervisors could keep the expenses down with the stroke of a pen by about 10% per year, then why was so much more requested in the first place? That committee operates much more like a 'justification for saying yes to every program proposed' rather than a filter of 'needs versus wants' aimed at balancing the budget to last year's spending and adding for growth and inflation only.

CONVERSELY, 8-year veteran Stafford School Board member, Robert Belman, who says he believes he was elected to work FOR THE TAXPAYERS- not the school system- has it right when he says, "I shudder at the thought of some elected school board members across the state that don't share that same belief. To give them taxing authority scares the devil out of me."

"Taxpayers will actually suffer under the change," said Stafford Supervisor Mark Dudenhefer. "I think there has to be one body that can balance the revenue requirements for the entire county," he said. The school board "only sees a small piece, and there needs to be one group that sees all the pieces."

AMEN to that Mr. Dudenhefer. Want to move to Spotsylvania?


At February 1, 2008 at 5:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope everyone understands the severity of this. My husband is a Marine and we currently live in Illinois- though we're still VA residents- and our school boards have the ability to raise our taxes.
We own a modest 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath colonial worth about $300K and we pay nearly $8,000 a year in taxes!! 71% of our taxes go to directly to our schools- all 9 of them!
Here's a link to prove it:
This past year voters said no to a referendum for a local school district, Big Hollow. The school board then proceeded to shorten the school day, take away lunch, gym, art, and music.
Wake up Virginia- this is NOT ok.


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