Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Your paper acting as a mouthpiece for the grandiose, elaborate, financial lunacy being foisted upon us by the board of Dorchester County School District 2 is appalling. This bias is evident to me in that letters to the editor in opposition to the school proposition are seldom seen, but blatant promotion of the proposed bond referendum is given favorable quarter-page coverage on the editorials page and even repeated front-page news coverage posing as news.
Chambers of Commerce (by the way, no friends of small business) help the funding of campaigns for those interests that benefit from the construction of mega-palaces in areas where developments are anticipated. Superintendents of schools are their surrogates to insure that, wherever the new schools are located, they must be large enough to insure that developers are able to construct apartments and residential housing in sufficient numbers to fill these schools. The schools are just a catalyst to draw new populations to an already over-populated area of the county. Business expansion is discouraged within the same area, because of the bias, the fees and the property taxes.
It is a well-known fact that taxes from residential housing never come close to paying for infrastructure costs they create. Worse, from evidence before Summerville and its outlying areas, we experience roadway congestion, pollution and increased costs for electricity, water, sewer and garbage collection fees. Small businesses are inundated with hidden fees and taxes. The public is confused and conflicted about increases in sales taxes and other fees and about Summerville city limits being expanded to include outlying subdivisions that are adamantly against incorporation. The power of money interests has shown political clout to eventually make incorporation happen despite the opposition.
The road the District 2 school system has taken in repeating the same ovations for tax increases over the past 30-plus years proves the cliché that repeating the same mistakes repeatedly is a sign of insanity, unless there is a hidden reason that it benefits those who realize a profit from those mistakes.
What we really need are neighborhood schools for the primary grades, constructed of expandable metal buildings and other conveniences, such as classrooms that can be adjusted to fit the size of the class, with adequate lavatory facilities and other amenities too many to list herein. The main advantage is that the children can walk or bike to the schools and the teachers have significantly more contact with the parents. The costs of construction are a fraction of what is now proposed. Relocation of the mega-schools and their built-in extravagances is not possible but the relocation of the teaching, administrative and supervisory staffs to neighborhood schools would fill most of the gap in personnel requirements.
An alternative to the neighborhood school is the charter school, requiring more encouragement by the school board and administrators than in the past. School choice would relieve the overcrowding sooner, allowing school funding “to follow the child” and the parents to consider home-schooling, religious and private education. There is a way out of the debt addiction of the school board.
The district’s own finance department admits it will cost $304 million to repay the proposed bond over 19 years. Their estimated property tax increase of 17 mills (which will as usual turn out to be much higher) amount to $1,020 of new taxes each year per $1 million of assessed valuation of commercial properties. Over 19 years, that would equal $19,400 of new property taxes per $1 million invested by people who actually create jobs. The cost of public education without competition must not be made the model for the next 19-plus years. Those who own businesses should not support it.