No more property tax increases for government schools
By J. Dyer
I have read the “public school” commentaries in the Sentinel over the past weeks. They document over a decade of fiscal failures perpetrated by public school officials.
A new set of public school officials is studying these failures. The basic conclusions of these current official studies are:
1. the current situation is not their fault, and
2. all options, except raising our taxes, are not acceptable options to them because they are troublesome and hurt them too much.
Government school bureaucrats are in a tough spot. It may be true that some of this mess may not be the current administration’s fault. It also may be true that all government school employees were not and are not in favor of how past and present school budgets have been handled. The problem is that these bureaucrats insist on taking the burden of their habitual fiscal mismanagement off their backs by placing it on ours with increased property taxes.
When government can tax property, it has the power to take away that property. When a government is fiscally irresponsible, the threat to property owners becomes exceptionally dangerous. Government bureaucrats plead, scare, threaten and deceive property owners into approving “little” tax increases year after year, but they never stop their excessive spending.
Those property tax increases add up to threatening financial burdens for people with limited resources. It is shameful for a group of people to endanger their neighbors’ home ownership in order for their organization to forego the consequences of their financial irresponsibility.
Examples of the district’s financial irresponsibility were displayed in their own editorials. One of the editorials described how the district spends maintenance money. The district is allotted $272,000/year for maintenance. The district spends $630,000 each year on maintenance worker salaries and benefits alone. That is 231% over budget without spending a penny on any actual maintenance.
No private business could survive such overspending. But the government school system survives because it is a huge confusing bureaucracy with little accountability to taxpayers. It spends what it wants today and expects us to pay for its overspending later with higher property taxes.
Another example is school busing. The district spends a good sum on busing its students to school. I asked at one of the open school meetings why the taxpayers were subsidizing parents’ responsibility for getting their kids to school. Someone suggested that busing be eliminated or parents be required to pay the full costs of it.
We were told that suggestion wasn’t possible. Really? Not possible? It seems that the district refuses to make any hard decisions that hurt “their own,” but they readily make decisions that would require the hardships to fall on the rest of us.
In a commentary of New Year’s wishes in the Sentinel, one of the wishes was that the Ramona community would “support the importance and critical value of our local public schools.” It surprisingly associated today’s public school with the first public school in Boston in 1635.
Let’s make that comparison and see if the current public school system deserves our support and if it is producing something that is critically valuable to us.
The first public schools in America possessed a predominately Judeo-Christian philosophy. The Ten Commandments were not only acceptable, but the Bible was often used as a reading text. Traditional families were strongly supported in these schools. The educational focus was on the basics — reading, writing and mathematics. Big government was held in suspicion. The Boston school was not supported by tax dollars.
The current public schools are predominately socialist in philosophy. Government schools are more interested in producing “correct thinking” comrades who will adopt current socialist/progressive ideologies than they are in producing productive, independent, truth-seeking citizens. Big government is held in high regard — viewed almost as the savior of last resort. Today’s government schools are supported by an unending appetite for your property tax dollars.
This is not a public school system I want to support, and I think its social engineering focus is having a devastating effect on the stability of our culture.
The school district has tried five times to get a bond measure passed in Ramona. We have wisely said, “No!” each time. The district has proven itself to be financially untrustworthy. We learned recently in the Sentinel that the district’s current problems are a result of the district refusing to listen to taxpayers in 2002. When the school bond measure failed in that year, instead of hearing us and limiting their spending, they went out and borrowed the money we refused to give them. Now they want us to bail them out of their defiant, irresponsible borrowing.
Let’s not give them any more of our money. Let’s encourage them to frugally manage the large amounts of money they already receive. Let’s force the bureaucracy to clean up its own mess.
With no accountability to us and with no change in attitude from them, giving government school bureaucrats more money is going to allow them to continue with their fiscal irresponsibility — just as their past behaviors have shown us. How many $100 plus tax increases are you willing to take to support a fiscally irresponsible organization? I say none.
J. Dyer is a Ramona resident.
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- What steps has Ramona Unified taken to dispose of excess property?
- Money management, not money, is the issue
- Self-government requires self-sacrifice
- Letter to the editor: Ramona schools need Prop. R
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