Letter to the Editor

Reasons for NEVC School District annexation

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dear Editor:

My name is Greg Wortman and I am a member of a political action committee known as "Patrons for Quality Education" (Ron Hughes, Treasurer). I attended the NEVC board meeting on Thursday, Aug. 19, that was an emotionally charged event with discussion about the existence of a school district endeared by many. As a resident within the district and having attended the Walker school during elementary, middle school, and high school years, I know the comfort of close friendships developed in a small class room, interaction with teachers and staff, and the feeling of being known in a small community. I voluntarily left Walker High School after my junior year to attend high school in Kansas (larger with more than 300 students in high school), and later enrolled in the University of Kansas with over 5,000 students in my freshman class. Thus, I can personally attest to the stress of adjustment from small to larger class size, and change required by individuals going through the education process. I graduated in 4.5 years from the University of Kansas after a six month venture in Alaska where I learned even more life skills, and am now employed with a major retailer that employs over 280,000 workers nationwide. I have been continuously employed with my company for over 30 years with increasing levels of responsibility. I have learned to adapt to change and to interact with individuals and groups with very diverse backgrounds. I have owned property within the district for many years and have continuously resided here over the past 12 years. After providing this brief biography, I do not pretend to be superior to any other resident, especially the students of NEVC. I do realize that life is a struggle and the path for success takes many different turns for each of us, and the value of a good education should not be taken lightly.

My intent as a member of "Patrons for Quality Education" is to provide an opportunity for voters to decide on a new direction for public education in Northeast Vernon County. I strongly believe that annexation with a larger district will benefit all for the following reasons:

* 1. Students will grow and become stronger through challenges and interaction with more students in a moderately increased class size; the teacher and student interaction is not threatened in a class size of 25. A larger district can offer more choices in advanced curriculum, athletics, other extracurricular activities and in general foster education and growth through exposure to more students and educators. Competition in life and among students is a good thing that encourages individual growth, nurtures life skills, and can lead to accomplishments that benefit society on a much larger scale.

* 2. Consolidation of smaller districts has been mandated in some states and has occurred through the political process throughout Missouri (McDonald Co. and Cass-Midway schools are examples). This consolidation process formed the NEVC district in 1996 and for the past 15 years has failed to provide the revenue and community support for funding construction or maintaining existing buildings at affordable costs to tax payers.

* 3. A major portion of public school revenue (approx. 43-45 percent) comes from local tax payers (business and individual) and with smaller districts the percentage is higher. Public financing of school districts is evolving with overall stress on state and federal budgets; the portion of local expense is predicted to increase. In my opinion, the solution is merging with a larger tax base so that an individual or business is burdened less, and that any increase in a tax levy creates a greater amount of revenue.

* 4. It is commonly accepted that an accredited, community supported, efficiently funded school district attracts economic growth through business and new residents. The opposite has occurred over the past 15 years in the NEVC district, with towns growing smaller, business leaving, and overall population declining. The farming industry has dramatically changed with enterprises growing larger, but more efficient, with less labor and employment. The answer is to annex into a larger district to enable economic growth and prosperity for more, and encourage new residents to invest.

In summary, numerous failed ballot propositions have widened the split among concerned residents over this very important issue of public education. The proposed annexation ballot initiative will divide voters again as residents discuss and decide what is best for education, the community, and the future of North East Vernon County. It is not the intent of "Patrons for Quality Education" to be vindictive and spur anger among neighbors; but rather to look beyond the emotional charged issue of maintaining a small district and offer an opportunity for growth for all.


Greg Wortman

NEVC resident and voter