posted on May 18, 2006 17:29
I asked a retired friend, who occasionally serves as a substitute teacher, why the School Board was determined to push for a tax increase when three independent polls show it losing overwhelmingly.
He told me an interesting story about the dress code in the Wake County Schools. He said students ignore the dress code and administrators do nothing about it.
I said: Why?
He said: Because if they send the kids home for being dressed improperly the parents get mad and complain to the School Board.
He added: The School Board is afraid of the parents, the Administrators are afraid of the Board and the kids aren’t afraid of anyone.
Two hundred and fifty parents who oppose year-round schools – so students don’t lose their summer vacations – showed up at the School Board meeting Tuesday, demanded higher school taxes so there will be fewer new year-round schools. The Board promptly voted to spend another $58 million to satisfy them. That’s an average of $230,000 per parent present. Which has to make that one of the more successful demonstrations in history.
Two hundred and fifty parents may have looked like a ground swell of support to the School Board. But the parents and the School Board needed to understand that all of the polls about school bonds say one thing.
Every bond tested that includes a tax increase loses.
Most taxpayers in Wake County – roughly two-thirds of the people – don’t have children in public schools.
They are perfectly willing to support the schools with their tax money. But they also think it is reasonable to save $400 million by Wake County going to more year-round schools. In other words, it doesn’t make sense to spend $400 million so schools can sit vacant three months out of the year.
Doubtless, some parents view having to plan vacations during the three week breaks students get each quarter in year-round schools – rather than over the summer – as an inconvenience. No doubt it is.
But weigh that against the inconvenience of Wake County citizens paying $400 million in higher property taxes.
Politically, the School Board and the County Commissioners are between a rock and a hard place. Whatever they do they are going to make someone mad.
What those polls are saying loud and clear is they are going to make a lot more people mad – 64% of the people – by raising taxes to protect summer vacations.
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