With the month of May coming, it time for flowers to bloom and for our school district to trim resources. Every year when this happens I appreciate the flowers and figure there has to be a better way to fund our schools. Below is the text of a letter I send to Representative Insko with copy to County Commissioner Alice Gordon. There has to be a better approach that what we have now. Thoughts and comments are appreciated.
Dear Representative Insko,
We have had some correspondence over the years on school funding. For your constituents who live in the Chapel Hill Carrboro School District, who care about education, and who understand that a vibrant, successful and, therefore, well-funded school system is a cornerstone in the foundation of our community, May is always a depressing month. May is the month every year where we confront the impending budget short fall, fret over the choices of which resources our children will lose next year, watch our children’s teachers and mentors worry about whether they will still be employed in August, and will line up to speak to Commission Gordon (on copy) and her colleagues imploring them to raise taxes, particularly the special district tax. The Commissioners sort through this the best they can but only have the blunt instrument of regressive taxation to address the funding short falls.
It’s like watching the same movie year after year with no hope of a better outcome. On the bright side, this situation is easy to fix. If legislation were passed in Raleigh which allowed a special district tax to be progressive instead of regressive the Commissioners could sort this out in short order. I have not gone through the math (but would be happy to do so if it would help in drafting a proposal) but this example should serve to illustrate the point. You set the special district tax such that on the first amount of property value e.g. $100,000 the tax rate is lower than it is today, perhaps zero. On the property value above the threshold, the tax rate is set higher than today. The legislation should be arranged to allow for the possibility of reduced taxation for seniors and farms. With this simple change, the taxation burden would be shifted to people who can better afford it like me and the schools could start adding resources rather than reducing them.
I am convinced that if we continue as we are our beloved school district will wither and lose its reputation for excellences and its place in the foundation of our community. I don’t believe than any of us, parents, teachers, students, or local officials want this to be legacy of our time as stewards of the Chapel Hill Carrboro School District. So representative Insko, I ask you to consider introducing legislation to give the Commissioners this type of taxation latitude. If you are successful, it will be an accomplishment that makes you proud as you what the district grow and flourish. If you have doubts about whether there is support for the initiative I suggest you ask Commissioner Gordon to recount her experiences over the years at the June meetings when school funding comes up. If you need any assistance on this initiative please let me know I and can raise up an army of fellow parents who would support this.