Letter to the Editor

Vote no -- NEVC school financing plan is too risky

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dear Editor,

Upon reviewing the issues concerning Proposition S on April 6, the voters in the Northeast Vernon County R-1 School District have many things to consider. The NEVC school district is asking voter approval of a $2.45 million bond to be paid with a 94 cents increase per $100 of assessed property valuation.

This amount will not be enough to construct the proposed school building; rather an additional $1.425 million is required for construction, furnishings, and other professional fees. This additional amount is to be drawn from the state funded "Children's Trust Fund" or lottery funding that is generally used for operational expense by school districts such as teacher salaries, supplies, equipment, etc.

This questionable and risky funding request is being made during uncertain economic times when the Missouri state operations budget is currently being reduced by as much as $500 million this year, impacting many programs including education. In my opinion, this risk taking would eventually result in extremely high taxation for the residents of the NEVC R-1 district and jeopardize the operating budget for the school.

Another issue to consider is the increasing costs of education for a school district that is 27-44 percent above the total average education cost per student than neighboring districts (source: www.dese.mo.gov/schooldata). NEVC R-1 has the lowest overall assessed property values in Vernon County, considering this, can the school system be supported even with increased taxation applied? The taxpayers are mostly individual farmers, property owners, and residents of a rural area who are currently operating on very tight budgets with declining personal incomes, job losses, and uncertain economic futures. The NEVC R-1 school district is jeopardizing everyone's future with this proposal to construct a new school without a sustainable revenue and tax base, i.e., not enough tax payers and businesses to support the proposal.

Another issue to consider is the size of the student population, which, according to NEVC R-1 administration, is 140 elementary, and 90 middle and high school students, or 230 in total. The official state education Web site previously referenced shows the current total at 196, with a declining average over the previous 5 years, and is projected to drop even lower. Is it wise to operate a public school system so inefficiently for such a small number of students? Neighboring school districts range from approximately 400 for the smallest, 1,200 middle, and 2,500 for the largest student population, all of which will be asked to make budget cuts due to declining state and federal funding.

In closing, the students and staff of NEVC R-1 should be commended for making academic improvements within a challenging situation; however, the future of education lies in combining assets, facilities, and consolidating efforts to form a superior experience without jeopardizing anyone's future. For the reasons stated and others, I encourage the voters of the NEVC R-1 school district to VOTE NO on Proposition S on April 6.


Greg Wortman