Friday, May 29, 2015
New tax won't add up to better schools
John Donald O'Shea wrote this in the March 10, 2014 Dispatch/Argus. These words are true now and every time we vote on the school sales tax. (..... marks paragraph breaks.) "Exactly how much money does it take to educate a student in the public school system? ..... We are repeatedly told "our kids deserve the best!" But what does the "best" cost? Will another $11.5 million do it? Guarantee it? Moline School District 40 tells us that its 2012 cost per student was $9,488.46. ..... At the same time, the county can't afford to replace a century-old physically and functionally obsolete courthouse and is expected to ask for a tax increase to save its nursing home. The American economy stinks, and here come one more special interest group telling us that our kids will be better off if only we pay an additional 1 percent sales tax. I doubt it! ..... Moline District 40s financial statements show: "Total governmental funds revenues for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2012 of $86,634,518." "Total governmental funds expenditures for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2012, of $ 85,333,855." ...... Not content with that $86.6 million in revenue, a group calling itself, "YES Makes Cents For Students," wants Rock Island County voters to impose a 1 percent sales tax "to provide a better and safer learning environment and to reduce reliance on property taxes." The 1 percent will raise $11.5 million, about $3.8 million of which would go to the Moline schools. In consideration for that increase, the district promises to reduce the real estate levy by $400,000. As such, the net tax increase for the people of Moline would be $3.4 million. ..... In short, the "Yes" people want $90,034,518 to run the Moline schools. The group also blithely claims taking $11.5 million out of the private sector will somehow "boost the local economy". But this isn't $11.5 million for just one year: It's $11.5 million every year! ...... The Moline School District's financial report also states, "Moline School District 40 serves 7,438 students with a 2011-12 total governmental fund budget of $102,556,230." In 2012 there were 147,457 men, women and children in Rock Island County. An $11.5 million tax increase means every man, woman and child's share of the tax will be $78 per year -- year after year. ...... Therefore, as during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012, there were 7,438 students, including high school students, in the Moline school system. By simple division, the cost of educating each student was $11,472 ($85,333,835/7438 = $11,472). A $3.4 million tax increase means the Moline schools can spend $90,034,518 or $12,105 per child ($90,035,518/7438 = $12,105). And yes,I question the district's $9,488.46 per student figure. ..... So, why isn't the $86.6 million enough? Why isn't $11,472 per student enough? ...... According to the district's figures, the 2011-12 teacher ratio was 16.15 students per teacher. Taxpayers, therefore, are already spending $184,699 per year to educate the 16.15 kids in each class. ..... Do the "Yes" people really expect us to believe that if we spend an additional $457 on each Moline child, it will boost the local economy? Provide a better and safer learning environment? At a time when the district barges ahead with the Hamilton school expansion over public objection, how can there be any trust on their promise to permanently reduce real estate taxes? And in the $86.6 million they already have, is there no $3.4 million that could be put to better use? ..... In the 2012-13 school year, the Moline School District was very "average". It ranked 222 out of 480 (top 46 percent). Only 50 percent of Moline High School graduates meet or exceed the ACT College Readiness Benchmark (defined by an ACT composite of 21 or higher). ..... Maybe it is time for the public schools to take an open-minded look at private/Catholic school achievement. ..... Alleman's 2012-13 enrollment was 457 students. Its student-to-teacher ratio was 17:1. Ninety-eight percent of Alleman's graduating seniors went on to college or joined the military. Over 70 percent of Alleman's 2013 graduates met or exceeded the ACT College Readiness Benchmark. The average composite ACT score for 2012-13 was 23.1. ..... Alleman's Total Operating Fund Revenues for the 2012-13 year was $2,931,209. Its Total Operating Fund Expenses were $2,959,045. ..... Alleman spent an average of $6,565 per each of its 457 students. And as far as I know, Alleman has football, baseball, softball, soccer, golf, volleyball, tennis, drama, orchestra, etc., just like the "public schools". ..... Why does it cost $11,472 to educate a student in the public schools, and only $6,565 to do so in a Catholic school? It is difficult to argue that Alleman isn't giving more bang for the buck."