The real facts

Published 1:21 pm Monday, November 24, 2003

By Staff
We have heard so much about the need for voting yes for the 10-mill tax increase. No one has thought about what effects it will have on our county. We continue to hear this is for our children, and I have heard enough.
Education is first and up most, but what about the real estate businesses? People are not going to move where there is high property tax rate. Companies will not come to Escambia County if the tax rate is too high. My property tax increased over $300 last year. With a 10 mill increase my taxes will go up about $600. This will mean a $900 increase within a couple of years.
What about our senior citizens? Are we going to have to add another 10 mill tax to support them? No one has thought about how much they are going to lose.
I once supported Mr. Powell for superintendent, but I now feel that was a mistake. Mr. Powell would like you to believe that the 7 mill has not risen since 1925. The schools' income has increased every time there has been a reappraisal. How naive does he think the voters are? This is not something to be ashamed of; this is something to be proud of. What better way to attract business to this county?
As I understand it, Mr. Powell will retire at the end of his term. Did he want this job just so his retirement would be more? What about Curtis Ray Parker? There was no discussion about reinstating Mr. Parker at the end of his term. Did our school board vote him in for one term just so his retirement would be more? How much did this cost our school system?
The problem may be leadership, not money. If my information is correct, Escambia County school system was in the top 10 pertaining to finances in recent years. My question is how many smarter students did we have then? How many more industries did we attract then? At one time we had 50 or more teachers than the state required to run the schools.
Voters wake up! Now you have your school system spending your money for education, and trying to convince you to give them more money. They are only going to publicize information that supports their agenda. Bob Riley tried this with no success. You as a parent and as a voter have no say in your school system as it is. As a matter of fact, I feel that your school board would rather you not attend their meetings. How many school board members actually live in their district? Isn't this a requirement to be a board member? How much do you pay our board member for attending one meeting a month?
The state has a minimal program to run the schools. What they say is sufficient. Huxford has an amount, McCall has an amount, and every school in Alabama has an amount. Every school in Alabama is also in a financial crunch. One of the cuts Mr. Powell made was laying off two supervisors. Were they federally funded? How much did this save our county and did we need them to begin with?
Face the facts- What is the population of the county? Has it increased or decreased? Look at the amount of jobs that have already been lost. Will a vote yes lose more jobs? Will a vote yes have any impact on new industry moving to Escambia County? There has been no study that more money makes smarter students. But if Mr. Powell is correct then we will have smarter students looking for employment outside of Escambia County. Where will this leave the voters that supported a 10 mill increase?
And those of you that rent and think this doesn't apply to you, think again. Your landlord will go up on your rent to cover the cost from the 10 mill increase
As far as Mr. Powell, he probably doesn't intend on living in Escambia County. So after he gets your taxes increased you can then pay him for the rest of his life.
Wade Cox, Atmore
But on the other hand
This week, I read the article in your paper concerning the vote for the ad valorem tax on December 9. Your article mainly focused on Escambia County Middle School and the cuts it faces without the passing of the tax. I would like to address the situation at another school, Huxford Elementary School. It appears that Huxford faces more than just a few cuts; it faces being closed. Closing this school should not be considered. Please allow me to explain my point.
I attended Huxford from Kindergarten through the sixth grade. Huxford and its teachers laid the foundation for my education. They taught me the basics and encouraged me to pursue my dreams to be a successful person. Huxford offered me more than just an education; I received an enormous amount of support, encouragement and concern from the teachers to the lunchroom workers to the bus driver to the administration. For the teachers at Huxford, the kids in their classes are more than students, they are family. There have been many times through the years that I have seen my former teachers, and each time, they all remembered me and inquired about where my life was at that particular point.
Several years ago, I was invited to a reunion of my kindergarten class at Huxford. The reunion honored the retirement of Mrs. Bonnie Chandler since we were her first class at Huxford. The teachers honored their colleague on her retirement. The parents honored a teacher who taught their children, and we honored the first teacher we ever had. This reunion was an example of what type of environment there is at Huxford, I cannot see this happening at another school.
Now, as a product of Huxford, ECMS, ECHS and The University of Alabama, I am far removed from the educational system in Escambia County. However, I hear from family and from the your paper of the devastation that has befallen the schools here. It is sad. When the latest test results came out, I read where the children at Huxford excelled on the standardized tests where the other schools in the county nearly failed or failed. The article made an important note by stating that poverty is an indication of how students will do on these tests, meaning more poverty equals lower scores. Huxford had one of the higher poverty rates and the higher test scores, which shows the teachers and the administration at Huxford Elementary School are committed to the education of these children to the point that they are able to break the poverty statistics so these children succeed.
As a resident of Escambia County, I will be voting for the ad valorem tax, and I encourage everyone else to do the same. For myself, personally, I have nothing at stake because I do not have children, but I feel that I do have a responsibility to my community, my town and my county to help produce well-educated and productive individuals. Please go vote for the passage of this tax and the education of the children in Escambia County.
Cotrena Bearden
Editor's note: the article to which Ms. Bearden refers is one of a Wednesday series of five, outlining how schools are living with the cuts made already and what they will face if the vote fails.

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