Weatherford Democrat

April 21, 2013

Letters to the Editor – April 21, 2013

Weatherford Democrat

Looking at the potential financial impact of WISD bond

Dear Editor,

There is a $107.32 million bond on the ballot for the Weatherford ISD voters to approve or disapprove. We can all agree that there is a need to look at overcrowding, safety, and security in our schools. However, there are questions that need to be asked before rushing to approve a bond package that will affect everyone’s pocket book in Weatherford.

You will note that the WISD Superintendent has been quoted as saying, “68 percent of the money would be used to address safety, security, and capacity issues.” Additionally, it is being painted as only a $15 per month increase for the average homeowner in Weatherford. That sounds minimal until you peel back the onion and really look at how it impacts the Weatherford economy.

Focusing in on what is not being mentioned publicly is the ripple effect a tax increase would have on the recovering economy in Weatherford. An increase in ad valorem [property taxes] would affect business owners, new home sales and new construction in Weatherford. These folks represent a large piece of the tax pie in Weatherford. Losing businesses or discouraging growth could affect sales revenue for many business owners in Weatherford.

The question to be answered then is who makes up the difference for the lost tax revenue? The answer is the homeowners and property owners who are left after the smoke clears. Our local economy has seen gradual improvements over the past few years. This can be attributed to the cost of living in Weatherford remaining relatively low in comparison to other cities in the DFW area. Many municipalities, school districts, county and state entities have seen the need to tighten their financial budgets, knowing the financial difficulties a tax increase would represent in a weakened economy.

The real elephant in the room here is the $500 million [actual cost] of this bond when it matures in 2044. It would seem more prudent for the WISD to prioritize their future needs – utilizing their current budget to pay for those items versus requesting items that are above and beyond their ability to afford.

Weatherford, the future economic stability of our city is in your hands. Please join me in protecting the futures of our young people for generations to come by voting “NO” to the $107.32 million bond package.  

Eric Matthews, Weatherford

WISD bond election – no way

Dear Editor,

Once again we hear the same song being sung by school systems across the country – there is never enough money in the public education coffers. How much is enough?

The United States education system ranks 17th in the developed world according to a global report by the education firm Pearson, but we spend more per student than most other countries. Finland and South Korea, not surprisingly, top the list of 40 countries with the best education systems. Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore follow. The rankings are calculated based on various measures, including international test scores, graduation rates between 2006 and 2010 and the prevalence of higher education seekers.

High-ranking countries tend to offer teachers higher status in society and have a “culture” of education. A glaring example of not getting bang for the buck is New York; their high school graduates cannot read or write and yet they collect and spend unconscionable amounts of money. My question is – how do you graduate a kid when they can’t read or write!?!

Most of these studies show that while funding is an important factor, it is not the most important factor in strong education systems. A culture supportive of learning is more critical – as evidenced by the highly ranked Asian countries, where education is highly valued and parents have grand expectations for their children. While Finland and South Korea differ greatly in methods of teaching and learning, they hold the top spots because of a shared social belief in the importance of education and its “underlying moral purpose.”

Further, researchers measured socioeconomic outcomes like national unemployment rates; GDP, life expectancy, and prison population … all of these categories are prominent in American society right now. Unemployment – way up, GDP down, life expectancy – unknown now due to a big question mark – Obamacare, and prison populations – over-crowded. Various reports note the importance of high-quality teachers and improving educator recruitment, however the rankings show that there is no clear correlation between higher pay and better performance.

The bottom line: there are no magic bullets. Throwing money at education by itself rarely produces the intended results. Education requires long-term, coherent and focused system-wide attention to achieve improvement. For myself and I’m sure I speak for others in the same situation; facing retirement and do not have any skin as they say when it comes to education. My children, nieces and nephews are all graduated from college yet my local tax bill remains and will remain enormous. Why should property owners/retirees continue to pay thousands of dollars for the education of non-property owners living in apartments and other rental properties?

Our school tax system is out of step; it punishes people if you will that are hard working and successful and own property. In Texas that seals your tax destiny. Look, times are tough for everyone, we have tightened our belt at home, and I suggest WISD do the same! Please vote NO in the upcoming bond election!

Lonnie Williams, Weatherford