Yes is the only answer
Published 1:55 pm Monday, December 8, 2003
Times are hard. The economy is sluggish nationally and especially so in Alabama. People all over have had to do without things and tighten their belts, while prices for everything have continued to rise. Those with the fewest resources have been hardest hit, because they had little to fall back on.
It isn't only families and individuals that are in this crunch, school districts are especially hard hit by the double whammy. That is why we must support the proposed 3-mill renewal and 10-mill increase in the ad valorem taxes.
Why would anyone choose this time to ask for a tax increase, the very time when it is tough enough to make ends meet? There are many valid arguments against the proposal.
But it must be now because there is nothing left in the kitty. There is no other way to keep the extra curricular activities, such as band and sports, going. Some schools and facilities, such as Huxford Elementary School, Pollard-McCall Junior High School and the Turtle Point Science Center will be closed.
It isn't because of corruption or incompetence. It is because the oil severance tax money that had been in the bank is gone. The money from the state has been reduced drastically. And the sales tax from the city of Atmore that had been dedicated to the schools has evaporated.
The board of education has done everything it could think of to cut costs, making do, doing without, and letting some of its staff and faculty go.
It is to the point of having 30 to 35 students in a class. It is to the point that students in the lower grades who need help learning to read or to keep up in math will not get that help at school. In the day of families where two parents work, that means they will not get as much help as they may need to succeed.
In the short run it means no more high school Friday nights, no homecoming. It isn't the short run that scares the daylights out of the realists in this community.
It is what the failure to adequately capitalize the schools will mean in the long run.
No new business will come to an area without decent, stable schools. No family will want to raise children here. The ones who prize education will leave, or send their children elsewhere to be educated.
It will increase the drain of the best, the brightest, the most promising from the area, the very ones needed to help turn things around in this town.
But most of all, we must do it for the children. They deserve the very best education that we can give them. What does it say to them when their parents, grandparents, the people at the daycare and the ones next to them in the pews at church will not support the schools?
Why then should a child try? If this is good enough, why should our young ones try to do better?
The fact is, this is not good enough. We need strong schools, individual attention, and extra curricular activities for those students who choose to pursue them.
Don't let them down. Support the children. Support the schools. Say yes to the ad valorem referendum.
They are counting on you.