The leaders of the public school districts in Carroll and Montgomery counties have finalized their budgets, with one district requesting an increase in ad valorem taxes and the other opting to request the same millage rate as last year.
The Winona-Montgomery Consolidated school board voted to request an additional $295,000 this school year to fund two the addition of two School Resource Officers for the district at $110,000 and to fund a plan of action to improve third grade reading efficiency, $185,000.
The Carroll County school board voted to keep ad valorem millage rates the same as last year, although they already approved the lease purchase of new school buses and have agreed to hire a new superintendent of education, which is expected to earn a much larger salary than the current superintendent.
Neither vote was unanimous, which isn’t a surprise when dealing with a hot issue topic a like tax increase. With the state not fully funding the Mississippi Adequate Education Program and a history of cuts handed down in the middle of a budget year, local school leaders are responsible for making those tough decisions to fund already tight budgets while trying to improve the districts.
What reasons are important enough to raise property taxes, even for the most conservative taxpayer?
While I have always been a fiscal conservative in my political views, I am left of moderate on social issues. Quite the dichotomy, right?
In a nutshell, I work hard to make a living, and it should be my decision how I spend the money I earn. I do not believe in forced philanthropy. If I want to make a donation to a good cause, that should be my decision since I did earn that money. I also do not believe in spending money because it is there. I do believe in managing budgets as efficiently as possible.
On the other hand, I believe in being kind. I believe everyone should be treated equally regardless of age, race, gender, socioeconomic station, or sexual orientation. I believe that old fashioned common sense is not used often enough.
I also believe the government is responsible for providing certain basic services to its citizens, and they include public safety and a providing a free public primary education to its children. I have no problem paying my fair share to keep my family safe, whether at school or at home, and to educate our country’s young people. What will our country look like in the future if our young people do not receive a proper education?
The Winona-Montgomery Consolidated School District hired two school resource officers this year, one to be stationed at each school. The officers will not just be focused on keeping the schools safe in an ever changing world. They will also spend time counseling students when needed and educating students in crime prevention and other matters.
Winona-Montgomery will also will spend a portion of the funding increase to focus on improving student performance standards, particularly in third grade reading proficiency. Currently, the district’s leadership is working on a plan of action, which could include hiring new staff and purchasing technology or other resources.
I agree with the Winona-Montgomery school board’s decision to raise taxes. The safety of our students and quality of education should be paramount, not just to the members of the board but for every members of this community.
In Carroll County, the school board voted 3-2 in favor of keeping the district’s local funding request the same as last year. A proposed increase of $45,000 was initially agreed upon to fund the lease purchase of three new school buses, however, when the board voted to approve the fiscal year 2020 budget, three school board members voted to keep the millage request the same.
I realize keeping taxes low is a priority, but the safety of Carroll County’s young people should trump keeping taxes low. If a repair shop refuses to make repairs to a school bus because it is too dangerous to be on the road, that bus should have been retired long before now. And it is not just one bus, but three buses.
I hope the board’s decision not to ask for the funding increase does not jeopardize the purchase of those new buses. It is the board’s responsibility to ensure the safety of the students while in the district’s care.
Again, there are good reasons to raise taxes. No one should be completely opposed to a tax increase if it truly is in the best interest of the public. In my opinion, safety and children are at the top of the list.