– Having trouble raising taxes
A pair of May 5th articles in the Cincinnati Enquirer and its northern Kentucky edition show how public education’s seemingly insatiable desire for money is running up hard against reality.
In the first article, the Enquirer reports that school tax issues faced a tough public this month when school tax issues failed in five out of eight school districts in Southwest Ohio.
Among the three districts where tax issues won on the ballot, West Clermont homeowners will actually see a slight reduction in their annual school taxes while in the Sycamore district the current levy was simply renewed, which does not raise homeowner taxes, either. In only one of the eight districts was an actual tax increase approved.
On the other hand, a separate Enquirer article shows public school educators are putting their hands out more and more for private donations.
Such things as playgrounds, which used to be included in the tax-funded construction of new schools, now are being funded with private donations.
And, the price tags are not “bake sale” size anymore. For example, a new artificial turf athletic field and renovations to the sports stadium at Boone County, Kentucky’s Ryle High School were paid for with $900,000 in private donations.
One Ohio school actually got a whopping $12 million from its alumni foundation to fund an expansion.
Donations don’t always come as cash contributions, either. The Enquirer points out that parents are now doing volunteer service in areas ranging from photo copying to helping with reading and math to planning school events. That notably reduces the requirement for paid staff.
Still, the private cash makes up only a small amount of the overall pot of money being spent in our schools, so one way or another our school leaders are going to have to adjust to the stark fiscal realities facing more and more Americans. This is a tough time, and some hard choices to economize are required for all of us, and that includes our public school system.